In this country, there are millions of people who because of age or illness do not have strong immune systems or have other medical problems that make them frail. The majority of these have already had the flu shot and are doing everything possible to protect themselves. Unfortunately, most “healthy” people have not had the flu shot because they do not want to “start the shot thing” or because of bizarre excuses such as “I have never had the flu,” or ignorant statements like “you can get the flu from the shot” (actually impossible). Now those healthy vaccine abstainers are getting influenza and their behavior is killing anyone who is young, old or frail.
You see the flu shot only works 60-70% of the time and even less in people with impaired immunity. That means that as the epidemic spreads though the “healthy” people that refused to be vaccinated, it is transmitted to little children, the elderly and to patients with cancer, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease and any other ailment you name, even if they have been vaccinated. Healthy people get a few days off work, complain about the headache-vomiting-fever and then recover. Societies weakest members spend weeks recovering, end up in the hospital, and in numbers that will soon reach into the thousands, die.
It is called herd immunity. Unless most of the herd is immune, then no matter what they do, the weakest suffer the most. A mature and responsible herd tries to protect the entire group, in order shield the weak. Therefore, when large members of the herd invent reasons to avoid their responsibility, it is not they that suffer, but the child down the street.
We respect the individual’s right to opt out of certain herd responsibilities; no one would recommend a legal mandate for flu vaccines. However, since refusing to be vaccinated puts others in the herd at risk for their lives, it seems reasonable to us that if you are not going to protect the herd by getting the flu shot, then why don’t you drop out of the herd.
Now, of course, we do not mean permanently leaving public life… just until the flu season has past … say April. The most ethical and respectful behavior would be to go into your house, apartment, condo, cubby or cave, close the door or rock and hibernate the next three months. To make is easier to keep away friends and family we will provide a large glossy sign, with red letters on a black background, skull optional, which says “Warning: Flu Carrier – Quarantine,” to guarantee that no one from the herd bothers you and you cannot contaminate them.
There are wonderful benefits from living in civilized society, but there are also moral and practical responsibilities. By failing to be vaccinated, you place vulnerable neighbors at risk. The honorable thing to do is to withdraw until the crisis has past.
See you in Spring,
The babies, mothers, grandparents and patients of America
P.S. Get your flu shot, today!
As published in Sunrise Rounds.
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