If you reject the vaccine, reject the hospital bed too

Apparently, folks who don’t want to get vaccinated against COVID feel they’re being persecuted for what they consider a personal choice. Their thinking, I guess, is if others are safe from the coronavirus after getting jabbed, why does everyone else have to do so as well?

D. Allan Kerr

D. Allan Kerr

But seems to me anti-vaxers don’t have any such reluctance to take up hospital beds when they suffer serious effects of COVID themselves, which seems kind of hypocritical. I mean, if you’re going to commit, then commit all the way.

Walk the walk, babe. Otherwise, you’re just making a half-assed stand – denouncing medicine that could save you if you get hit with this thing, but then embracing it when you wind up suffering the consequence of your own actions.

If you reject the jab, reject the hospital bed as well.

That’s one of the reasons vaccinated people get annoyed with the anti-vaxers. Those who reject vaccines claim it’s nobody’s business but their own, but whenever there’s a COVID-related surge hospitals seem to run out of beds, and the anti-vaxxers are taking up a lot of them.

More: Privacy and public health loom large in New Hampshire clash over vaccine registry

As a result, other folks who need medical care are not getting the attention they need. In December, the ICU of Dover’s Wentworth-Douglass Hospital was at more than 100 percent capacity. Maine Gov. Janet Mills recently deployed the National Guard in her state to assist overburdened hospital staffers.

Just recently there was a news article about a Massachusetts pizza shop owner who died, after contracting COVID, while waiting to get transferred to a hospital where he could be properly treated. This 68-year-old gentleman was at a Southbridge, Massachusetts, hospital but when his kidneys started shutting down, that facility could no longer provide the care he needed.

More: ‘Didn’t have to be this way’: Wentworth-Douglass COVID-19 care nurses pushed to the limit

His family contacted hospitals within a 75-mile radius trying to find one with available space, according to USA Today, but by the time they found a place in Connecticut, he was too sick to be transferred. He died this past December.

More: ‘Called every hospital within 75 miles’: Man with COVID dies while waiting for hospital transfer

The deceased shop owner wasn’t vaccinated, and in fact “didn’t believe” in it. I’m not mentioning this private citizen by name because it’s not essential to this piece – the intent isn’t to mock or diminish the poor guy, but to illustrate a point.

Sometimes, when someone who’s taken the jab winds up testing positive for COVID, we hear anti-vaxers try to point it out as evidence the vaccine doesn’t work. They’re being disingenuous, of course, sometimes willfully. Just about every responsible medical professional will tell you the vaccine is not a guarantee against attracting COVID, but it hugely decreases the likelihood you will die from it.

I’ve asked myself more than once how many stories anti-vaxxers have to hear of like-minded folks who opposed vaccines, became ill from the coronavirus they had downplayed, and then expressed regret from their death bed. At one point last summer, a string of conservative talk radio hosts – including one who called himself “Mr. Anti-Vax” – downplaying COVID concerns all wound up dying after they were hit with it.

Marc Bernier, the 65-year-old Florida radio host who called himself “Mr. Anti-Vax,” wound up being hospitalized with COVID-19 for three weeks before he died last August. Earlier that same month, another 65-year-old Florida host named Dick Farrel, who had called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “power tripping lying freak,” also died from COVID. But not before texting friends and urging them to take the shot he had rejected.

“He told me this virus is no joke and he said, ‘I wish I had gotten it!’ one of his friends reported after Farrel’s death.

When yet another conservative 65-year-old radio host – Nashville, Tennessee’s Phil Valentine – was hospitalized with COVID last summer, he posted on his Facebook page, “Yes, the rumors are true. I have COVID. Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it.”

A couple of weeks later, his station released this statement:

“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.”

But Valentine didn’t get that chance. He too died in August, the same month as his Florida colleagues.

Caleb Wallace of Texas was only 30 years old when he died from COVID that same August, leaving behind three kids and a pregnant wife. As founder of a group called the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, Wallace had organized rallies against masks and mandates.

To his credit, Wallace didn’t want to go to the hospital when he got sick – not because he opposed taking a bed from some other patient but, according to his wife, because he didn’t want to add to COVID statistics. In fact, he initially refused to get tested, even after displaying symptoms. He treated himself by taking vitamin C, aspirin and the livestock dewormer ivermectin.

By the time he did go to a hospital, it was too late to do anything for him. He had to go on a ventilator and his wife had to start a GoFundMe page to help pay medical bills.

Again, these deaths all occurred during just one month last summer.

By refusing to take the shot, a sizable chunk of the population is keeping COVID and its various strains alive and thriving, which also annoys those who want to tame the coronavirus. One could argue these folks are just wiping each other out, but that wouldn’t be very nice to say.

I just recently had a positive test result and it hasn’t been a pleasant experience. But I received the vaccine last year and, after some nagging from my 80-year-old mother, got the booster shot this month.

So it could be worse. At least I’m not adding to the burden of overworked local hospitals.

D. Allan Kerr is a resident of Kittery, Maine.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Kerr: If you reject the COVID vaccine, reject the hospital bed too

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