In recent weeks, a number of COVID anti-vaccination letters have appeared in HV1. As a response, I would like to share a cogent story, because it’s tragedy underscores a serious health situation in our country:
Phil Valentine, a 61-year-old Nashville-based conservative radio talk show host who had questioned whether it was necessary for all people to get Covid-19 vaccines, died on August 21 of COVID pneumonia, his employer, WWTN Radio, announced on Twitter. On July 26, Phil’s brother released the following statement: “He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated,” he said in an interview. “And that he regrets. This is a real threat, it is a real public health crisis and it is something that if he had to do over again … his cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated.”
Coincidentally, in many southern states with low vaccination rates — COVID hospitalizations and deaths have skyrocketed, causing many overwhelmed medical professionals to leave their jobs. They are suffering from severe overwork and stress, and are frustrated with having to care for critically ill unvaccinated people — when these life-saving shots were widely available to them for free. Meanwhile, the poorest countries in the world are begging for access to these same vaccines — which they know will save them countless lives.
Simultaneously, the danger from the evolution of even more virulent COVID variants increases every time another person is infected with this virus. The only effective way to deal with such a highly contagious disease is to institute strong public health initiatives, by rallying the people and educating them about the need for strong rules and regulations. This is the nature of such epidemics. Without a cohesive response from the public, many millions more will become infected and suffer torturous deaths. There is no way around this dilemma that impinges to some degree on absolute personal freedom. People who shun mask wearing and vaccinations are a viable threat to everyone else they come in contact with — even those who are vaccinated with only partial protection.
When former President Trump meekly encouraged vaccinations at his last rally — he was booed! This is a sad snapshot of the attitudes held by a sizable portion of our population. Our country is “falling apart,” and I place most of the blame for this on the extreme right’s preaching of selfish individualism and anti-social behavior. Living in a healthy society necessitates laws and regulations that can restrict some personal freedoms. People are prohibited from smoking in many public places and driving recklessly on public roads to protect others. These same cohesive concepts also apply to dealing with public health emergencies that pose an imminent threat to everyone!
Peter V. Fiorentino
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