Updated: Apr 14, 2022
We have been hearing this debate for months. To date, at least half of the adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine and yet the debate is still heating up and rages on. It seems like ages ago we were talking about a new virus emerging across the globe then crossing over into Europe and eventually making its way to both the East and West coast of the country. It began with two cases in the city home of the famous crossroads of the world Times Square as well as outbreaks in California and Washington state. Who would have thought a viral outbreak across seas and then two cases in a city would lead to one of the darkest times seen since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic! In the midst of all this came the realization that this virus was not just going to go away but rather our way of life would be changed. Moving forward we would need some sort of protection from this unrelenting and unforgiving virus.
So fast forward and here comes the debate on vaccines. Now I must confess outside of vaccines I had when a child or entering college, vaccines have not been on my high priority list. Ironically, for the first time in forever, I had actually planned to get some vaccines or boosters in preparation for a trip overseas in 2019. On that list was the flu shot, something I was always hesitant to get. This distrustful and some may even say foolish fear and rejection of life-saving vaccines is truly a personal choice. Yet we know this personal choice has an impact on all others in a community. For proof, look no further than the measles outbreak across the country in 2019 with concentrated cases in New York and California. Despite this uptake in cases in a disease that had been at bay for years, you still had a committed group of parents and advocates suing local entities over their rights to choose or not choose to vaccinate their children.
Now once again, the debate comes up and the stakes have never been higher. The inalienable right to choose is once again in the spotlight. On one hand, you have the dream of society going back to the way it was with just one simple vaccine. On the other hand, you have the skeptical and vigilant defenders of their rights to choose. Is there common ground? In my opinion no. It is one of those things that once again makes this a great country, our right to choose and make well-informed choices.
Speaking from experience, healthy skepticism can be a good thing. People should ask questions and do their own thorough research. These actions are prudent in order for a person to make the best choice for them and their community. Quite often as humans, we think selfishly and not beyond our own little bubbles. Whether it is going out sick, not practicing proper hygiene, or putting others in the community at risk, by nature we are accustomed to behaving selfishly. So how do you balance this routine self-serving behavior with establishing a safe environment for all in the middle of a pandemic? One can argue that by taking the necessary precautions and following the protocols that the medical community and CDC put in place, you do not have to get vaccinated. On the other side of the discussion, you can argue that getting vaccinated is a necessary part of the process needed to move the world back to a place of normalcy and safety for all. The fact is that somewhere in the middle is the gray area that we as human beings will need to meet.
Just as certain topics like religion and politics are usually advised not to discuss out of fear of contentious discussions, I believe vaccine hesitancy has been added to the list. It is common for people who intend or have had the vaccine to question and in some cases resent those that have not. In turn, those who have chosen not to get vaccinated are approached with disdain, unfair treatment and in extreme cases threatened. It is my belief that continued open and honest discussions are needed to break through the barriers and unfair treatment of those who choose not to get vaccinated. We may not agree but it is necessary to explore and build upon common ground in order for the country and world to continue to move forward. It is a race against time to beat a deadly virus and we must remember that that the virus is the enemy and not each other.
I have made my own decision to not bring the topic up with people as it is a personal choice. I do offer an important suggestion. Educate yourself and do your research and do not base your decision on myths, hearsay or listening to individuals not in the medical field. Perhaps the most important tip I could offer if making a decision, do not base your decision on fear but base it on faith. Base your decision on facts and science and your faith will lead you to make the choice that is right for you.
The reality will simply be some will take vaccines whether for COVID-19 or something else in hopes that it can lead to a sense of both normalcy and security. Others will fight against it and move about their communities interacting with those who are trying to take precautions. It will remain a tale of two standards and the key will be which side of the argument you feel most comfortable with. The most important takeaway is, there should always be a right to choose but when does a right to choose harm your fellow members of society? It is important to consider that we do not have the ultimate right to pass judgment even if we do not agree. It is worth examining how you would feel if you were backed into making a decision that you were not comfortable with or had the time to research. Ultimately, can we force someone to make a choice that goes against their beliefs or can we truly say who is right or wrong? Some may argue in extraordinary times such as in a global pandemic you can. Which side do you stand for?