A gazillion years ago, I worked for the American Cancer Society. A few times each year, we hosted events for volunteers, many of whom were cancer survivors.
Now, cancer treatment is no walk in the park and one of the unpleasant realities of it is that your natural immune system can be blasted to hell by chemo or radiation. This was a concern for some volunteers who would come to our events. We always had to be cognizant of that and minimize their risks of getting sick while they were at our events. See, a viral illness that was no threat to a healthy person could be a catastrophe for someone with a compromised immune system. A cold could become pneumonia which could become life threatening.
One of the things I recall about doing these events was accommodating people who didn’t feel safe eating a meal served from a buffet. Between the shared serving utensils and people breathing (or potentially coughing and sneezing) around the food, it was too big a risk.
Anyway, the moral of the story was that we would arrange for plated meals for people who needed to avoid buffets. It was no big deal and everyone was happy.
I used to get really fired up thinking about would happen if these folks were exposed to vaccine-preventable illnesses. Cancer treatment can mess with vaccine-acquired immunity so they were at risk of catching something like measles or rubella. Those illnesses can kill otherwise healthy people. I don’t want to imagine a person with a chemo-ravaged immune system trying to fight off measles.
People get real weird about vaccines. I don’t want to get into the weeds of vaccine arguments. I’ll simply say that unless you have a known medical condition that precludes you from getting vaccines, refusing to get vaccines is a bullshit move based on bullshit information circulated by people who are chock full of bullshit. Vaccines exist to stop the rampant spread of deadly diseases. Refusing vaccines means you choose to be part of increasing contagion of vaccine-preventable illness.
People who refuse vaccines are the ones who get diseases like measles and spread their pestilence around and risk the lives of MOTHERFUCKING CANCER SURVIVORS.
We’re about a week from access to a vaccine that has great results in protecting people from covid-19. I’m totally gonna get it when it’s my turn. I can’t wait. Not only will it reduce my own risk of covid-19, it will reduce my risk of giving it to someone who is immune-compromised and can’t be vaccinated.
Some people aren’t going to get the vaccine and I have a message for them: STAY THE FUCK HOME YOU COVID TRANSMITTING GERM BOMB.
Oh, what’s that? You don’t want a brand new vaccine? You saw some YouTube video that says vaccines cause sterility? Or read a post from a white lady with an associates degree in communications who sells essential oils on Facebook and she says the RNA in the vaccine will change your chromosomes and your future children will have gills?
Yeah, STFU with that. I don’t care.
If you’re not immune, you’re a risk. You could be incubating covid at any moment. You could have an asymptomatic case. You’re the disease vector. You’re the Typhoid Mary of the covid. You are the serving spoon on the buffet that is too germy for a cancer survivor to touch.
This virus is sneaky and dangerous. That long incubation phase and the asymptomatic carriers are the reason we’re all on lockdown: anyone can be contagious and not know it.
If you don’t get the vaccine, that will still be true for you. Your risk of getting or spreading covid-19 won’t change.
Unvaccinated people will need to continue acting like potential spreaders for the indefinite future. You need to keep the masks and the travel restrictions and the 6-foot distance from people.
Don’t shake hands. Don’t hug. Don’t go to a concert. Don’t sing in church.
And for the love of all things holy, PLEASE don’t kiss your newborn niece. You could have covid! Babies can’t be vaccinated! Are you trying to kill her?
Life will return to normal as more and more people get vaccinated1. But unvaccinated people should decline to participate in normal life because you are still potentially contagious. The pandemic is not going to end for you the way it will end for people who have gotten a vaccine. You can still get sick and you can still make other people – vulnerable people – sick as well.
I can’t make you believe science. I can’t force you to get a vaccine.
But if you don’t get the vaccine? Stay home and save lives.
1Yes, I know the science is still pending on whether the first generation of vaccines reduce transmission risk. But you know what? Even when we get a vaccine that absolutely, positively does prevent transmission? Anti-vax people still won’t get it. So my message stands.