On September 20, 1953, a three-year old boy woke up and told his mother that his head really hurt.
His mother’s gut reaction was to cry out, “Oh please God, no!”
Her pleas were ignored and the little boy, one of my brothers, had indeed contracted polio—a vicious headache being one of the first indicators.
Years of trials and tribulations would await both my brother and my parents as he would be left with a lifelong physical disability.
Less than a year later the newly developed polio vaccine would protect my parents’ six other children from suffering the same fate, which included an iron lung parked outside my brother’s hospital room during his many weeks of hospitalization.
COVID-19 should be in our collective rear-view mirror right now. Instead, most unfortunately, the pandemic has spiked due to vaccine hesitancy and the Delta variant. Vaccine hesitancy, in turn, is being driven by a steady flow of misinformation and hyperbole. Politicians, talking heads on television and radio, and various other pundits have collectively helped to fuel vaccine hesitancy. Some have even gone so far as to infer that having to produce a vaccine record—a mandatory requirement by school systems throughout the country in order to register your child—is echoing the tactics of 1930s and 40s Nazi Germany.
610,000 of our fellow Americans have succumbed to COVID-19. It is now being referred to as the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Doctor and Professor Peter Hotez stated that the pandemic is now, “. . . a self-inflicted wound for the nation.” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was blunt in her assessment of the current state of affairs: “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”
The unvaccinated are now starting to be held accountable for their actions. The National Football League just announced penalties for games that are cancelled due to unvaccinated players. One can only wonder if medical insurers may be contemplating not covering any COVID-19 related medical expenses incurred by the unvaccinated.
Life expectancy in the United States fell by 1.5 years in 2020, largely attributable to the pandemic. What we are enduring as a society as a result of COVID-19 is neither a political or constitutional issue. It is a public health issue.
Ancient Rome is generally credited with the concept of classical republicanism. It is the idea that one of the responsibilities of citizenship is a recognition and promotion of the common good.
We have triumphed before as a nation over terrible diseases such as the aforementioned polio. A healthy dose of classical republicanism, in the form of vaccinations, would allow us to triumph over COVID-19.