Let’s Be Pragmatic About Vaccinations

The African American community needs to reconcile history with modern facts, data, and truth.

Haunted by the Past

African Americans have good reason to be skeptical of the medical profession. We have the night doctors’ legendary tales, those bogeymen of African American folklore, which included the needle men’s folklore and the black bottle men. Each of these stories deals with the attack on African Americans’ physical health, who in these urban legends were either poisoned, medically experimented on, or outright murdered. There is no doubt in my mind that each of these legends is based on fact. Health is not the only part of the nightmare scenarios black people are presently still going through. There have been widespread inequalities in other areas such as finance and housing and the redlining policies and sketchy lending practices that enabled it.

When we see various law enforcement laws and policies that are directly targeting poor people and people of color, and then we have the Tuskegee experiment, a plan that is the prototype of some low-budget B movie about a mad scientist holding humans captive to perform diabolical experiments on them. The fact that this actually happened, and historically not long ago, sensible people can forgive that African Americans are a little cautious about trusting an infrastructure that has historically killed them or made them sick on purpose. Any person thinking logically should understand African American distrust of the healthcare profession and vaccinations in particular.

“I’ve always come to the conclusion that ‘but’ is the way of asking for permission to lay something heavy on one’s head.”

Stevie Wonder — Joy Inside My Tears

But, we should consider that those who oppose the COVID vaccinations have not actually researched the proper or reputable sources before concluding the vaccinations. We can’t let ignorance and fear be the reasons for our decisions not to get vaccinations. Many of those opinions are based on false information doled out by conspiracy enthusiasts. Some of the groups responsible for this lie to the left and right of center.

People are addicted to fear and they are addicted to the Internet. Much of the lies and conspiracy theories that dominate the Internet are driven by people and organizations that rely on chaos. Our population is so full of hate, stupidity, and gullibility that even simple-minded people whose only talent is to destroy things, can easily manipulate a sizable portion of the population.

Some of the digital media sources are sketchy, to say the least. A little research from the proper sources and prominent professionals’ writings in the medical profession will give citizens a much clearer view of vaccinations’ value. One person I know tried to prove to me that the moon landing was fake. The proof he showed me was some guy on YouTube sitting on his couch and explaining why we couldn’t reach the moon, all the while he is wrapped in the technology that we gained from science and our exploration of space.

I stopped listening after 10 seconds. The problem is that most people do not make this logical decision. Vaccinations have been effective from at least the 1950s, and all groups have benefitted overall. When was the last time you have seen someone with measles or mumps? We have to be pragmatic about this. Have you ever met or known a person with polio? The whooping cough sounds like some dark age disease thanks to vaccinations.

My sister died recently from COVID. The coronavirus still walks among our population. The State of New York allowed people 65 and over to get the COVID in mid-January of 2021. Even then it was complaints that supply was not going to fulfill the need. When Mayor de Blasio was asked why the city had not pushed harder to give vaccine doses to people aged 65 and up, he replied that the city was already facing enormous demand for the vaccines. Governor Cuomo criticized expanding priority to people 65 years old, stating that the state will not meet the demand for vaccinations.

In most normal lives, it is not easy to maintain high levels of happiness or grief. Initially, the first week after my sister’s death, I floated between those two extremes. Now I am somewhere in the middle with an occasional dip into the grief side. I spend my time thinking about vaccinations pragmatically instead of emotionally.

I do not know if my sister wanted to take the vaccine or not. I did not know if she was trying to get the vaccine, and it was not available. I was trying to get a vaccine ever since they were available. My wife and I finally got it only a few days ago. It is only in hindsight that I wish my sister and I had a pointed conversation about vaccinations. I was wrong to assume that Andrea would get the vaccination because it was common sense. Some of my relatives and friends told me that they were not planning on taking the vaccination. They are not thinking logically. I am not going to apologize for typing those words. I am 100% sure that if my sister had taken the vaccination, she would be alive and relatively healthy. I do not know if she was an anti-vaxxer or on a waiting list because of unavailability. Either way, vaccination would have given her more years on earth. There is empirical evidence that the coronavirus vaccine works and is not harmful, and all we have to do is look around us; we have tens of millions of cases to prove that point.

This has always been a problem of supply and demand. At the beginning of the pandemic, we created a false toilet paper shortage when people started buying copious amounts of toilet paper to the point it had to be rationed. The vaccine shortage arose because we did not manufacture enough in a short period of time. We started making categories of priorities to compensate for the lack of product, and it has been a mess. Even with a low supply, I would have opened it up to a first-come, first-serve basis and have the entire population line-up in cars, wheelchairs, or on their feet to get a shot. Have an extra line for people over 60 years old, and everyone else, including people with pre-conditions, will wait in the general line. I suppose we would catch many of the people with pre-conditions in the 60 and over categories. No appointments would have been necessary. Just show up. Put vaccination centers in the most populated areas first and then have those centers in the rural areas. Some people will have to drive further to a vaccination center, but so what. Be an adult, get the transportation if you don’t have your own, get to one of those centers and wait in line. This method would not have been perfect, but it sure would have saved time, energy, resources, angst, and most importantly, eliminate confusion.

Are the anti-vaxxers depending on everyone else to take the vaccine to make them safe? Or do they believe the vaccine does more harm than good? Or do they think that the coronavirus is a hoax? We need to be smart about vaccinations. As the vaccines become more available and a high percentage of people become immune, a false sense of safety may set in. I believe that those who do not take the vaccine will forever be suspectable to the coronavirus. That is not good news for anyone.

Humanist, educator, writer, photographer, and modern-day Luddite. http://thomasholtrussell.zenfolio.com/ My writing is a living organism.