A Pain in the Arm?
A novel idea occurred to me the other day. Excuse me, I don’t mean I got an idea for writing another novel, not just after finishing the gut-wrenching process of penning a work of creative non-fiction that had me rifling through perhaps a couple thousand papers delivered to me in hopeless disarray.
No, I’m referring to a thought I had about why people refuse to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, and now its even more threatening delta variant. Oh sure, there are the debunked reasons: The conspiracy boneheads think the government put a microchip in the vaccines to track you; the danger from the virus is overblown and nothing to worry about; the vaccine alters your DNA; the vaccine has caused a large number of deaths; the vaccine can be shed from one person to another; and on and on.
The idea I have is one that I’ve heard no pundit, politician or health professional discuss. Here it is: Some people are just too darned scared of the needle. In fact, I’d bet that is the case with a lot more people than one might suspect. I did read in the newspaper awhile back that someone declined to get the jab out of fear of the needle. And the news showed President Biden’s wife, Jill, holding the hand of a boy seemingly apoplectic over his imminent shot.
Heck, I hated to have blood drawn from my forearm for many years. Of course, that was at least partly due to the lack of skill in some technicians, including one who stuck me twice in each arm before a more capable nurse found a vein. But the few times I’d been stuck in the upper arm before getting the J&J vaccine were a cakewalk. The one I remember best was decades ago when I was working on a construction crew to earn college money and stepped on a nail, which required a tetanus shot to prevent lockjaw. The doc inadvertently bent the needle, and declared I was one tough guy for not even wincing. I didn’t tell him I was in fact a wimp, but it didn’t hurt.
That’s why I had no apprehension about my anti-Covid shot.
On the other hand – or arm – a lot of people may never have had a shot in the upper arm, and are afraid of getting one but too embarrassed to admit it. So they come up with other reasons to avoid what they consider an ordeal.
Now, that idea may well be idle, wacky speculation. Nonetheless, I’d like to see health professionals appear on news programs with assurances that getting a vaccination is virtually painless—that even the word “discomfort” is too strong to describe the feeling. That, it seems to me, would go a lot further to relieve apprehension than the endless shots (pun intended) on cable news of needles shoved into people’s arms. Young people may be especially nervous about the needle, and they are increasingly being urged to get vaccinated. Why not calm any fears they might have?
As for the other, irrational reasons for shunning vaccinations, two pieces in Monday’s newspaper took issue with the strategy of shaming the unvaccinated. A USA Today article quoted Stephanie McClure, a medical professor at the University of Alabama, as saying, “You usually don’t get anywhere by attacking people.” She said many people were “afraid, misinformed or mistrustful of authorities.”
My answer to that is, these people are in that pickle because they don’t pay any attention, or they prefer to listen to the misanthropes on Fox News and similar “news” outlets.
Other academic medical professionals objected to federal health authorities’ use of the term “pandemic of the unvaccinated” because it separates people into groups. Marc Thiessen, ultraconservative syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, admonished authorities to “stop harassing them.” Doing so just causes many a person to “harden his views against your position,” conservative political operative Arthur C. Brooks said.
Thiessen said the unvaccinated pose almost no danger to fully vaccinated people, so give it a rest.
Arthur C. Brooks
Really? Has Thiessen been deaf and blind to the voluminous reports of unvaccinated people flooding hospitals, forcing them to delay needed surgeries to vaccinated people? That, to me, may be the best argument to counter these people with. It so happens that only a tiny percentage of the Covid patients admitted to hospitals are vaccinated; the rest are unvaccinated. Perhaps they should be told that they’re free to believe anything they want, but those are the facts, and if the situation worsens, hospitals may have to make “Sophie’s choice” decisions: whether to prioritize treatment of vaccinated patients for lack of sufficient resources to treat the unvaccinated.
Of course, the best way to persuade people to get vaccinated likely would be to require proof of vaccination for admission to public establishments and government facilities. You’re not passing laws requiring vaccination; you’re just making it damned inconvenient not to get the shot. But then there are government officials such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis who restrict managers from requiring the jab or the mask, pandering instead to their politically obtuse constituents, the ones so self-absorbed as to think they should have carte blanche to do whatever they please, other people’s rights and safety be damned. I wonder how many times they’ve been arrested for driving without wearing a seat belt, or even having a license, or been denied entrance to a bar for being shirtless or shoeless.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
My Facebook page showed a message on masking that had me chuckling. An establishment has a sign reading: “Mask Required For Service. Do not pout. Do not whine. Do not argue. Do not harass the employees. Do not spout conspiracy theories or regurgitate misinformation you got from your dumb uncle on Facebook. This isn’t political; it is basic health and safety. Do not choose to be the reason the rest of the world is laughing at us. ‘I forgot it in my car.’ Well, go get it then. ‘This is unconstitutional.’ No, it’s not. ‘This is a hoax.’ You’re an idiot.”
Another Facebook posting was even funnier, the sarcasm priceless. Titled “Freedom to not wear a mask,” it began, “Welcome to the Freedom Café! We trust you to make your own choices if you want to wear a face mask. And, in the same spirit of individual liberty, we allow our staff to make their own choices about the safety procedures they prefer to follow as they prepare and serve your food.” The invitation then explains the various ways in which the staff may exercise their freedom by refusing to abide by hygienic and safe cooking measures.
“Some of you may get sick, but almost everyone survives food poisoning,” the restaurant notice advises. “We think you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay for the sweet freedom of no one ever being told what to do – and especially not for the silly reason of keeping strangers healthy.”