Every so often, my friend and fellow blogger, Julie of strictjuliespanks.com, writes a post expressing her political thinking. They tend to be intelligently written with close reasoning attributed to largely Fox News authorities. Her heart is in the right place. She advocates freedom and the American (Canadian in her case) way. Like most of her ilk, she suggests that those who disagree with her are against personal freedom and equates them to Chinese Communists.
Her latest rant is against requiring people to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID before being admitted to some public events. Oh, dear. The problem here is that requiring immunizations is a public health measure that’s been around for a hundred years. In the 1950s, hospitals were filled with little kids in iron lungs. Polio ran wild. Parents of people near and dear to me suffered the ravages of this disease. When kids were required to get the Salk and later, the Sabine vaccines, Polio was nearly eradicated.
I agree with her in the sense that we should be able to be the masters of our health. However, if this means supporting the propagation of a deadly disease, maybe we need to reconsider. There are only two ways to stop the spread of a communicable disease: isolate sick people or vaccinate against it. Isolation rarely works well because most diseases are “smart” enough to be communicable before symptoms develop. If they are especially sneaky, like COVID, a fair percentage of infected people are symptom-free. They can spread the disease without knowing they have it.
Another obvious point is that people who are not infected can safely interact. Sadly, it isn’t possible to be 100-percent sure that people who have been vaccinated are disease-free. But it is over 90-percent safe.
Dealing with a pandemic shouldn’t be a political issue. Republicans and Democrats get sick. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are vulnerable. Stopping the spread of a disease is a numbers game. In the olden days, diseases like leprosy were controlled by sending sufferers to Hawaii or Australia. They didn’t want to go, but nobody had a better way to reduce the spread. Tuberculosis was treated in the same way. Sufferers were isolated. It helped, but not enough to make these diseases extinct. The reason is that the disease can spread before isolation is possible.
Vaccines were a big step forward. Healthy people could be protected. Did they work 100-percent of the time? Not always. It doesn’t matter. Remember, disease is a numbers game. One sick person can infect dozens of others. The spread is geometric. A vaccine that is 80-percent effective eliminates four out of five potential targets. Spread is slower, much slower. Vaccines can only work if enough people are immunized. We are told that 70-to-80-percent is needed to reach “herd immunity.”
So what’s the problem? People with political agendas are using immunization as a rallying point for their causes. The far-right considers any pubic mandate as an attack on freedom. It doesn’t matter what the issue is. It seems to me that death is the ultimate attack on personal freedom. There are over 600,000 Americans who would probably agree if they were still breathing. Worse, we don’t have a vaccine approved for little kids. How many of them need to die for the cause of “freedom?”
I don’t think the issue is very complicated. We have a proven technique to manage a public health crisis. Instead of digging through right-wing “authorities,” isn’t it more sensible to recognize that sometimes the common good trumps (see what I did there?) the ballyhoo of people using your health and safety as a tool to advance dubious political causes?