Because it does not apply to me …
If we all went on with life governed only by our actions, what a small world it would be. Not merely small, but lonely and indecent. Encumbered only by ones own needs, we would care not about the necessity to share or live only within our needs. We would care little about the sharing of ideas that might spare self or other of time and waste. We would regard necessity only in so far as it benefited oneself. In short, we would cease to regard ourselves as a small albeit important part of a larger and much grander whole.
I am a physician. I don’t practice medicine to drive a nice car. And in fact, my father would tell you I chose a specialty that would not make me much money at all. And yet he lauded me most for choosing the profession that would affect the most number of lives. Everybody needs a primary care doctor. That’s not to say the nation ensures healthcare is both accessible and requisite. But for those who need a conductor in their lives to ensure that their benchmarks of excellence are met and their incidental needs are addressed, their primary care doctor is nearly as important as their sacred text.
The conversation surrounding the Covid vaccination is laden with political, religious and overall narrow minded tainting. For some, the vaccination represents anathema against their religious belief. For others, a demagogue told them that COVID-19 is a hoax. And yet still for a large bastion of our society, getting the jab and understanding the virus and its ravages somehow does not apply to them. Is it because unemployment checks have filled the void? Is it because they choose to live in isolation, and hence remain unfettered about its acquisition or its spread? Or is it because they simply could not be bothered about their part in a larger whole?
I have seen it all and I have heard every explanation. I have endeavored to crack through the most guarded of nuts. I have succeeded three times out of five in having the conversation and even leading people to the promised jab. But for those hold outs for whom a thought filled conversation is neither wanted nor acceptable, I ask you this: how will you reconcile your sickness, that of a loved one, or even an immunocompromised individual whose life will be curtailed because of your hold out? If you truly see yourself as a hermit living in isolation, then continue to do so. Do not avail yourself of your mask. Do not commune in public. Do not have that coveted birthday party in a downtown atmosphere without a mask believing somehow that you will neither acquire the virus nor spread it.
The vaccine has definitely claimed lives. 5000 to be sure. The virus has claimed 620,000 lives and growing. To be sure still, there is a huge discrepancy between the ravages of the vaccine and those of the virus itself.
You may tell me I am a scientist, or a doctor, and that it is my requirement to understand the virus. But please also tell me that it is my duty to teach you. Do not bury your head in the sand. Do not believe you cannot understand the goal. And please do not believe we do not have the time to spend with you. If my greatest success lies in moving the needle even a touch forward, then my role in this pandemic will not merely have been in getting the jab myself.
My greatest success will have been in being a messenger of hope and health, science and compassion, and a vehicle for compelling others to do the same. When I teach one person, that individual may teach two, and two may teach four, and just as we’ve talked about about the Ro value in the transmission of the virus, we can also begin teaching on the R naught value of education.
I am a physician, dedicated to making the lives of those whom I encounter in my office and in my daily life, better. Please do not curtail my momentum. I wish to live well. Your holdout could mean the difference between my own life, those of my patients and that of our nation. We all have a role to play as non hermetic members of a grander whole. Talk to me. I will teach you, so you may teach the next. And together, all 300 million of us may go on to perpetuate this chain of life and prevail.
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