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Basura: An open letter to those still unvaccinated

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” — Maya Angelou

Dear unvaccinated people:

Of course, I am referring to those who could be vaccinated against Covid-19 and its variants, but are not.

Most of us have been vaccinated, at one point or another, in our lives. Vaccination against many illnesses is often required and very commonplace. Children, for the most part, are vaccinated very early on, and later when it becomes time to attend school. Teachers have requirements to address such diseases as tuberculosis. Polio vaccines have been around for some times.

I wrote about a young man I knew briefly whose parents failed to vaccinate him against polio, with tragic results (see archived Basura column in Town Broadcast, reproduced below).

Those of us with military service in our background have been vaccinated against multiple threats, especially if we went overseas. Do you vets remember those plague shots that gave us one very sore buttock? The soreness persisted for what seemed way too long, despite the squat thrust exercises that the medical people suggested said would “reduce the discomfort”. The sergeants seemed more than delighted to enforce that suggestion.

Our friends in Arizona both contracted Covid-19 early in the pandemic. They both were hospitalized. He survived. She died gasping for air.

Of course, Linda got Covid from an unvaccinated person. I say that with some surety – for the vaccine had not yet developed when they fell ill. Both were healthy people. They did have one extra risk factor though; they were both over 60 years of age.

Today, Covid-19 vaccinations are readily available. Wearing a mask is protective of oneself, and of loved ones, and of the general population. Wearing a mask properly, covering both the mouth and the nose, that is. It also serves to slow the spread of influenza, and the common cold.

I’m starting to take it personally when made aware of fellow citizens that have so little respect for me that they refuse vaccinations. They don’t know whether or not I have underlying conditions that exacerbate my vulnerability to severe Covid infections. They don’t know if I live with someone with such issues.  Is it fair to think they don’t really care?

I hear the refrain “my body – my choice”. That’s cute, certainly, but it’s rather shallow thinking. If you cough that nasty Covid shit on me, suddenly your choice affects me, and it’s one I may not wish to choose.

What about a 91-year-old uncle? Or a young child I know too young yet to be vaccinated?

I spoke with a doctor not too long ago, and remarked, “These unvaccinated people are starting to piss me off!”

“Me too,” said the doc.

Basura, from the Town Broadcast Archives

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” — Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto

He needn’t have had polio. Jon was 10 years younger than I, and I’d had a polio vaccine injection, and then a booster administered on a sugar cube before Jon was born. The vaccine was available by the time he came along. But his parents hadn’t had him vaccinated against the horrible disease.

Jon was quadriplegic. He used an electric wheelchair, one that placed a sensor close to his mouth. Jon had no use of his hands, so a joystick was not an option. He had a “sip & puff” control, and it took cues from intentional inhalations and exhalations.

It was not called a suck and blow device, though Jon did use such descriptors now and then. With simple binary inputs, everything was ponderously slow.

Controls now would be vastly superior to those available in the 1980s. Of course, the adaptive equipment available to him then was worlds better than what had been available before. In today’s world, there would be speech commands. Jon could talk.

And talk he did. My role was assessing and documenting his eligibility criteria for certain services. It was pro forma, but it was something that needed to be done. Jon and I talked.

Without me bringing it up, he made it clear that he knew that polio vaccine might have spared him the ravages of the disease. His parents just didn’t get it done.

Jon didn’t think it was out of some quirky set of beliefs. It was, he said, just a failure on their part to provide for his needs when he was a child. He attributed it to what he called laziness and lack of organization. They weren’t opposed to vaccination. They just failed to get it done.

Jon was bitter about this. The vaccine was available. Free of cost. There were, in those days, massive amounts of publicity about the polio vaccine. There was even an animated bee, called “WellBee,” who stressed the importance of the vaccination.

That would have meant, for Jon’s parents, someone would have had to have taken him to a site, like a school or a church, where the vaccines were given. There would be some waiting in line. But Jon’s parents never got around to it.

Jon was a bright guy. He did well in high school, and went on to college, which was when I came to know him. He didn’t talk often about his disease or the ramifications thereof. He was angry with his parents, perhaps furious, though restrained in his expression of it. He never forgave them. He said that explicitly, in a quiet, yet forceful voice.

In what had to have been a well thought out plan, Jon killed himself before he was 21 years of age. He used his wheelchair to end his life.

I thought of Jon often as I read Phillip Roth’s excellent Nemesis, his novel abou the devastation of the polio epidemic in Newark. And I think of Jon now.

18 Comments

  • Basura,
    Both articles are so very well written.
    Because of your mention of the Phillip Roth book “Nemesis,” I read it. It was set in my parents’ Newark of that era, so the story held a much more valid message.
    Your story of Jon broke my heart.
    We are living in a brief moment in time where some people are compromising their own health and safety for an adherence to a false god and his moronic and hypocritical pronouncements. Others are holding fast to a manufactured belief that to aquiesce to COVID vaccination is an infringement upon their God-given, Constitutional rights.
    There will be stories writ in ensuing years like that of Jon.
    There are already people who, having survived the scourge of COVID, are now disciples of vaccination science.
    I’ve grown tired of the “my body, my choice” mantra of anti-vaxers. I pity them in their denial. And later on, when their stories are written, I will feel something, but I don’t think it will be sympathy.
    Thank you for your insightful writing.

  • Good to hear from you again! I only wish the subject matter wasn’t necessary.

    I have already gone beyond trying to understand why some people seem so selfish. Yes, it is their body but it goes so much farther than just their life. It affects us all.
    Worse yet, I’m sure many of the unvaccinated own pets and were concerned enough to make sure they got their vaccinations.
    It just doesn’t make sense!

  • Sir,

    Respectfully, thanks for being a guinea pig. I will wait 4 or 5 years to see how you folks do after getting a dozen or so shots.
    By the way, you still have no recourse on the manufacturers… wonder why? Many experts who are not paid pimps of the government state they have profound concerns of the shots’ LONG TERM effects, including auto immune disorders since the spike proteins can settle in the lymphatic system and bone marrow. Also concerns of cancers. Time will tell.
    By the way… the Omicron variant is largely like a cold. I truly hope the best for you all that got shot after shot.

    • Heres your answer to the big pharma making billions And no recourse because we don’t want those pesky regulations this is what the last administration was up to “During a recent meeting with CEOs from some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, President Trump said, “We’re going to be cutting regulations at a level that nobody’s ever seen before,” estimating that 75% to 80% of all FDA regulations need to be eliminated….. Skoal!

  • I wish this Chinese Virus wasn’t still being treated so political. The numbers are worse than they have ever been. Where is our beloved Governor Whitmer? Why hasn’t she shut the State of Michigan down once again, oh that’s right we have an election coming up this year………….go figure. Then the Federal Government and the CDC reduces quarantine time down to 5 days, they want people getting back to work. I believe our former administration begged for that. Why are Congress and Staffers exempt from the jab?

    AZ words:

    “I’ve grown tired of the “my body, my choice” mantra of anti-vaxers. I pity them in their denial.”

    As much as you would love to have it both ways it doesn’t work that way sweetheart. Over 600,000 babies are aborted every year under the pretense of “my body my choice” and the liberals don’t give a darn about these innocent precious lives. Why do you want to walk away from these words now? So now my words “I have been tired of these words for a very long time.”

    Cheers!!

    • If you wish this virus wasn’t “still being treated so political,” why do you still refer to SARS-CoV-2 as the Chinese Virus? That name alone contributes to the politicization of this entire fiasco.

  • Always humorous to watch the five D’s of Dodgeball; Dodge Dip Dive Duck and Dodge used to defend anti-vaxxers and the former President who made a calculated political decision to initially minimize COVID then start blaming the Chinese government (who President Trump claimed as a good friend at a meeting at Mar-a-laga in April of 2017 and praised President Xi for his government’s work on COVID cases as they topped 600 in February 2020 according to the National Review 7Feb2020.

    Then the Dip being critical of Gov. Whitmer who was roundly criticized for being an activist governor in April of 2020. Want to blame someone blame the MI legislature where Allegan County is represented by GOP state reps and state senator. Both have worked hard to limit the executive branch of state government including mask mandates.

    Finally the second Dodge. A pious attempt to switch subjects to abortion because it’s easier to pontificate about saving the unborn with zero mention of how you propose to increase the social safety net unless it’s still very human for themselves once out of the womb.

    Issue at hand is local hospitals beds getting filled so fast with those who refused to be vaccinated, 80+% according Spectrum Health. So much so that “elective” surgeries like joint replacement, cardiac surgeries and pulmonary surgeries deemed non-critical get put on the back burner.

    Are we to expect people with compromised immune systems have their employers and/or state government pay their salaries and wages to stay home or quit their jobs because others refuse to get vaccinated and wear masks?

    But typical for some “conservatives” if it doesn’t directly affect them it’s not important.

    • 2030,

      Just address the issues, please don’t “dodge” around them………typical……….

      Cheers!!

      • Stick to the subject hmm, so you bring up abortion when the subject is Covid, an airborne virus, which can be carried by anyone, young and old or healthy, the other is a choice. But seeing how you blame liberals, I can say the same for the GOP.
        A recent study from the American Journal of Medicine found that in 2017 there were 2,462 school age children killed by firearms. In the years since 1963, nearly 193,000 American children have been killed with guns, more than four times the number of soldiers killed in Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.
        There were 3,371 American children who died from gunfire in 2019, but yet they have received no protection whatsoever from Republicans, sacrificing their lives to protect the 2nd Amendment, instead the GOP continues to fight to keep the gun show loopholes open and increase the number of weapons of war on our streets
        Meanwhile, tens of thousands American children suffer life long trauma from gunfire injuries every year. The Children’s Defense Fund noted this year that in 2019 nine children and teens were killed with guns each day in America. That’s one every two hours and 32 minutes. Guns killed more children than cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, hiv/aids and opioids combined.
        For every child or teen fatally shot, another five suffer nonfatal gun shot wounds. And there was a estimated 16,644 children and teens injured with guns in 2018, one every 32 minutes.
        So I hope your passion for the seed also goes for the sapling.

        • Gar,

          Please re-read my post and AZ post then get back with me. “My body My choice” The liberals have been standing behind those words for years supporting the killing of babies (600,000 per year). So that bud is sticking to the subject. Those are the pesky facts you choose to not want to hear about……..Typical….

          Cheers!!

          • So then I guess that’s a No from seed to sapling? And we’re do you get your numbers from? Can’t be the CDC because you guys don’t believe in science. Those are the facts. But you keep in line with your party and keep with the will say a prayer for them and now’s not the time to talk about it program we see how that’s saving lives.

  • Well stated Couchman. But you can type till fingers fall off the anti vaccers will still go blind to the truth. Gov Witmer did a good job from the start. But so much pressure from the GOP and the Trump cult she had to relent. You state 80% unvaccinated at Spectrum Health same as the weekly report. Some commenters with no names call this bogus in it for the money. Seems like you would make more money on hip replacements than people who cant afford covid ICU care.

    • “Michigan COVID-19 cases skyrocket, hitting record seven-day average of 12,442”

      Governor Whitmer, please listen to science and shut down the State immediately, for the sake of everyone. Listen to the science, not election numbers……….

      Cheers!!

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