Gary Horton | Vaccination: Do Your Duty for All of Us

Gary Horton

We’re living in an odd time of widespread conservative distrust in science and professional competency. Increasingly, allegiance to flawed, discredited conspiracy theories and magical thinking upstages rational respect for science and following professional advice and direction. 

We’ve had anti-vaxxers before. We’ve had the tinfoil-hat crowd before. We’ve had conspiracy theorists before. And in every case, over time, reality finally wins the day, and the tin-foil crowd loses. 

The Hale-Bopp Heaven’s Gate crew all perished. True believers they most certainly were, but reality still got its way as 38 followers of Marshall Applewhite drank a lethal cocktail of Phenobarbital and vodka and the bodies of 21 women and 18 men were found lying in bunk beds in a mansion in suburban San Diego. (  

So much for following wide-eyed crazy guys… 

The no-transfusion, no organ transplant guys also display their faith with rigor, vigor and pride, but God himself eventually sends these folks on their way to heaven when critically needed medical intervention is foresworn and the inevitable consequence of medical reality imposes itself. 

With depressing frequency, we hear of this child, or that mom, or entire families perishing from buy ins to faith healings rather than submit to the rigors of fact-based, modern medicine.  

There’s no end in the American saga of certain “faithful” rebuffing science, medicine and observable fact. It happens in medicine and, increasingly nowadays, in politics. There’s something inside many folks wanting to believe the unbelievable, to somehow outsmart the “supposed facts” that the duped rest of us abide. Here, the magical thinkers believe they’re the smart ones, and fact-followers are sad, blind lemmings headed for certain doom. 

Until… reality again inevitably has its way and imposes its logical and foreseeable consequences on the magical thinking crowd. 

We verifiably drop rovers and helicopters onto Mars, and still folks doubt science… 

A mere three months ago, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital was packed beyond capacity with COVID-19 patients. By the time the “surge” had passed, some 150 people died, even with the best available care. Against Centers for Disease Control advice, COVID deniers had visited family and friends for the holidays, letting their guard down, and with predictable results, projected nearly to the day, COVID surged and greater SoCal became swamped with COVID sickness, death, and tragedy.

This is fact, locally observable and confirmed, and was completely foreknown to be a consequence of failing to take real precautions over the holidays. We were “COVID Hale-Boppers,” ignoring science with predictable suicidal results. And murderers, too, some were – as infected friends and family “innocently” visited others in close quarters, often without masks. Tens of thousands died in SoCal alone. 

I have a friend who lived with her husband, three grown kids, and her 70-year-old mom. One kid invited a friend over during the holidays, and the entire family came down with COVID from this one guest. By late February, our friend was searching for mortuaries to accept her deceased mom, and it was a tough search as almost all were full to overflowing. So sad is she, if only she had put her foot down and insisted on following CDC and health care guidelines. 

Similar stories have been repeated hundreds of thousands of times over the nation. 

Facts say we should have learned our lesson. Facts say, all Americans should now be very aware of COVID risk and resurgence, especially given what we’re hearing coming from India, Brazil, and other locales that failed adequate prevention. 

Instead, in our current pause of COVID torment, we see a rise of “anti-vaxxers,” the “vaccine-hesitant,” the “wait and see” crowd. Approximately 40% of Republicans and some 15% Democrats are so far saying they won’t take the jab – most citing fears over the science, or strange claims of “losing freedoms to the vaccine.” 

But known science says we’ve got to get up over 80% vaccinated, and higher still to be certain, to achieve the “herd immunity” we’ve so far longed for. We’re so close now. 

America has gone through a year of pain, suffering, inconvenience, lost jobs and lost time. We want this whole COVID episode over. We’re surely united in this one thing: We want COVID killed, dead and gone.  

Yet because of magical thinkers, but for the conspiracy theorists, but for the “freedom fighters,” we may not get there. With 30-40% of our population still unvaccinated, COVID variants can yet explode in America, potentially setting us back with yet another devastating wave, and perhaps one far more virulent. 

By denying or avoiding vaccine, we’re selfishly allowing COVID time and space to regroup, to mutate, and to come back at us more viciously than ever before. We are winning this war. America has done so much right. “Operation Warp Speed” helped launch the vaccine production. Joe Biden has pumped up the volume. We’ve distributed, stuck our arms out, and are now among world leaders in vaccinations. 

Now’s time for the hesitant, for the doubters, for the deniers, to put away selfish superstitions and so-called “personal rights” and join the battle, to put down COVID once and for all. We must be one united society in this fight – not disparate groups. This isn’t political, it’s not Republican or Democrat, it’s not about “rights” – it’s humanity vs. virus, and right now we’ve got the virus on the ropes. 

Please – if you haven’t already, go get the jab. Yeah, it’s going to hurt. You’ll have a sore arm. But afterward, you’ll be safe, and most of all, you won’t unknowingly be that kid who visited my friends during the holidays, with the guilt of a dead grandma on his head… 

Just get the shot and be done with it. Do your part – for yourself, your family, and our community! Just do it so we can all more assuredly move on to a COVID-free future. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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