By FRANK MIELE
Because I have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, I have been labeled everything from an anti-science Luddite to a domestic terrorist. If I lived in almost any other state than Montana, I might be denied basic human services such as health care, refused employment, or told I can’t shop at a store for such fundamental necessities as food.
The powers that be in government, media and medicine have decreed me to be an undesirable and they want to force me and millions like me to be vaccinated against our will. They say that I am a danger to society, never for a minute realizing that they represent a much greater threat to society — the threat of totalitarianism, the state against the individual.
eorge Orwell might just as well have never written “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The Greatest Generation might as well have never defeated the Nazis. Ronald Reagan may as well have never defeated the Evil Empire of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.
What’s the point if I have to surrender my dignity and willpower to the bureaucrats and technocrats and let them stick a needle in my arm to mark me just as a rancher would brand his cattle: owned.
Oh, wait — I’m supposed to surrender for the greater good. I’m supposed to give up my ability to govern my own body because the people who are already vaccinated are still terrified of the virus that the vaccination supposedly protects them against.
Something doesn’t add up, and until I feel comfortable with taking the vaccine, you can count me out. No, I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’ve never had any problem with vaccines before. From the time I was a child growing up in the early 1960s, I understood that vaccines were to protect me — and society — from deadly illnesses.
That’s not an exaggeration. Smallpox was fatal in up to 30% of cases, and even if you survived, you paid a price. One of my teachers bore the awful scars of smallpox on his face, and no one wanted to suffer as he had. Every kid in school also knew that if you had a run-in with a rusty nail, you ran the risk of being infected with tetanus, which went by the even scarier name of lockjaw.
Then there were German measles, diphtheria and whooping cough. We kids may not have known much about those, but our parents sure did, and they could tell stories about cousins, siblings or friends who had perished from them. I never got measles because I was vaccinated at a young age, but it was a common problem in lower-income families such as mine, and was something you definitely didn’t joke about.
I think vaccines have done the world a world of good. I remember getting my smallpox vaccine and waiting eagerly to get the scar on my arm that my mother’s arm showed off like a badge of courage, but it never appeared for me. Then when the oral polio vaccine was developed, I remember lining up in the gym at North Garnerville Elementary School in New York to get my first dose on a sugar cube. Yum.
So yes, I’m pro-vaccine. I also generally get the flu vaccine every year. I even got a shot last year, although for some peculiar reason, influenza vanished last winter while COVID was enjoying its greatest reign of terror. And naturally, my three children have all been vaccinated against the usual childhood diseases and taken whatever was recommended to keep them safe.
But one thing I never thought of doing was forcing my neighbors to get vaccinated against the flu. Did you know that influenza kills as many as 50,000 Americans a year? That’s approaching the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the entire length of the Vietnam War. On average, flu kills as many Americans every year as car crashes. Yet did anyone — even St. Anthony Fauci — ever dare to suggest that vaccination for flu should be mandatory because it would save lives?
Hell, no, and even though many vaccinations are required of school children for good reasons, we also have allowed religious and medical exemptions for families that needed them. Because we aren’t supposed to be a nation of slaves, but a nation of citizens. If someone had a personal reason why they rejected vaccines, we didn’t put them through an inquisition or try to burn them at the stake of public opinion. This was America — land of the free.