I was in on the early rounds of vaccination in New York due to the nature of my job. I got the jabs as soon as I could and dutifully followed my workplace’s frustrating mask mandate. I don’t have a high-risk lifestyle, don’t go clubbing or to many (any?) mass social events. I wash my hands and take care of myself, and I don’t have any significant medical co-morbidities.
But I got COVID anyway. The disease punched straight through two doses of Pfizer and put me on my back for weeks. Since I couldn’t do much of anything else during that time, I had plenty of time to think, binge-watch Netflix, and read the news.
One thing that I noticed while I was sick was how ghoulishly gleeful some people on social media were in their reactions to unvaccinated individuals, or the “unvaxxed,” getting sick or even dying from COVID. I guess it was easy for some to have that sentiment since the unvaxxed are generally perceived to be wealthy or middle-class white conservatives. What these folks fail to consider is 1) many if not most of the unvaxxed individuals in the U.S. are either minorities or low income (or both) and 2) regardless of race or political affiliated, making fun of people’s sickness, pain, and death is a pretty shitty thing to do.
Something else I saw was that as more and more “fully vaccinated” people like me manage to contract the disease anyway, the story is changing. The story now is not the original line that “the vaccine will prevent you from getting COVID.” Nor is it that the federally-mandated jabs aren’t working (although they clearly aren’t), it’s that they “offer protection against severe disease.” I’m not a medical professional so I’m not sure about how true the latest COVID story is. But I do know that COVID is a pretty “severe disease.” And it’s kind of hard for me to imagine how much more severe my experience could have been, as a relatively young and healthy person, with or without the Pfizer jabs.
One thing that hasn’t changed is where the blame is falling. According to the federal government and mainstream media outlets, COVID is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. It’s hard for me to blame unvaxxed Americans for me (and people like me) getting sick when the COVID vaccine isn’t working. Or at least it’s not working the way it was promised. That’s not just coming from me, or the millions like me who dutifully received “full vaccination” against the disease and contracted it anyway. It’s coming from no less than the CEO of Pfizer, who is now publicly admitting what many of us have begun concluding on our own: the two-shot regimen we were required to get doesn’t work.
I took the time to talk to a number of unvaxxed individuals about their choice to not get the jabs. Some reasons are political, some are medical, some are religious, and some are practical. While I disagreed with some of their reasons, I found all of them to at least be rational, and certainly not worthy of the scorn and blame being heaped on them. Not when there is so much that is changing, unsettled, and uncertain about the disease, its causes, and its cures.
I don’t blame anyone for me getting COVID. This is my first global pandemic too; there is a lot that medical professionals, political leaders, and us regular folk just don’t know about the disease and how it spreads. I do know that the unvaxxed include my extended family, friends, colleagues, and hundreds of thousands of good people who made a choice about their bodies that was different than mine. I’m not blaming them for me, or anyone else, getting COVID. And neither should you.
Scott Faith is a veteran of a half-dozen combat deployments and has served in several different Special Operations units over the course of his Army career. Scott’s writing focuses largely on veterans’ issues, but he is also a big proponent of Constitutional rights and has a deep interest in politics. He often allows other veterans who request anonymity to publish their work under his byline. Scott welcomes story ideas and feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.