"You can't force yourself to overlook something that goes against your principles, and you can't change your experiences to fit someone else's life." -- Stephen Mack Jones, "Lives Laid Away"

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Rule by the Irresponsible

       We were supposed to go to my sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving. There were going to be 8 or 10 people sitting around the table. We asked if everyone was going to be vaccinated. My sister-in-law was vaccinated, so was her husband, but she didn't know about the rest. She'd find out.

     She reported back to us that one of her husband's brothers was not vaccinated -- and he wasn't going to get vaccinated. Plus he was bringing a friend, and she didn't know if that person was vaccinated.

     So B and I elected not to go, because we didn't want to be sitting around indoors, for hours, talking and laughing with one or possibly two unvaccinated people.

     I was a little miffed, honestly. Why does one unvaccinated person get to dictate the terms of engagement for everyone else? But at least he was honest about it. He didn't try to hide the fact that he was unvaccinated.

Too close for comfort
     I also belong to a table tennis club. It has 40 to 50 members, ranging in age from 20 to 80. We used to play once or twice a week, with 20 to 30 people showing up for each session. Play was suspended because of Covid in March 2020. Now the club has resumed play.

     Here's the problem. We meet indoors at the community center. Once play gets started people begin to sweat. They breathe heavily. There's one door leading to the outside that is often left open. But there are no windows. The ventilation system is probably as old as the building. It would be hard to wear a mask. In other words. it's a perfect environment for spreading an airborne virus.

     Yet club organizers decided not to require that participants be vaccinated. Further, they decided, due to privacy concerns, that participants should not reveal their vaccination status. That means, with 20 - 30 people playing, odds are 6 or 7 people are not vaccinated. But no one really knows.

     Now some people say: So what? I'm vaccinated. I'll be alright. Honestly, if I were 20 years younger, I might feel the same way. But I'm not 20 years younger. 

     Meanwhile, in our county Covid cases are running between 200 and 300 per day, up from fewer than 100 a day a few weeks ago, even though some 75% of adults are vaccinated. Currently, 76 people are in the hospital with Covid. Last week 9 people died from Covid.

     So I decided not to play. I don't think it's worth the risk. But honestly, the situation leaves me a little peeved. Why? Because it's the minority of the unvaccinated who are in effect preventing the responsible majority from participating in a normal community activity. And the minority should not rule.

     Plus, if for whatever reason someone decides not to get vaccinated, shouldn't they at least be honest about it, not try to hide the fact? That way, at least those of us more susceptible to the disease, or who are more conservative, could make an informed judgment about how much contact we want to have, how much risk we want to take.  

33 comments:

Carole said...

Governor Hochul just instituted a statewide mask mandate for indoor settings for NY state. In my opinion, it should have started prior to Thanksgiving, knowing that holiday gatherings increase the spread of Covid.

For those who claim they don't want to get the vaccine, or don't want to wear a mask, I wonder if the sentiment would change if they suddenly found themselves in urgent need of medical care. Our hospitals are overflowing, there is a nursing shortage, our emergency departments are on diversion. Do you really want to put yourself at risk of not getting the urgent care you need? All in the name of "It's my body, my choice."

We are a civilized society with a lot of rules and regulations for the greater good of society. Think seatbelts, speed limits, laws that protect children from abuse...the list goes on.

Can you tell I feel strongly about this? As a retired nurse, I worry about all the health care providers who are exposing themselves by caring for those who chose not to get vaccinated. I'm grateful to be retired, even though it was a career I found extremely rewarding.

And let's not forget the little ones, too young to get vaccinated, who face the risk of severe disease all in the name of "you can't tell me what to do".

Arkansas Patti said...

Totally agree with you. I just can't understand those who think only of themselves. Maybe we need to start a anti-vaxer colony and
let them all live together and infect eachother at will. Pretty sure it would be a self limiting colony. OK that is harsh but this is really getting old.

tahoegirl.blog said...

I totally agree. I always want to ask " well, did you get a polio vaccine? a MMR vaccine?? Did your kids get their vaccines to go to school???" What's the difference.?? Anyway, my hope is Darwin wins out.

Anonymous said...

I agree. And I keep cheering for Darwin. :-)
My crazy neighbor doesn't believe in masks or vaccines, so I suggested that the next time he or his wife need surgery they tell the surgeon not to bother wearing a mask.

Rian said...

Same here, Tom. I would be doing exactly what you are doing... avoiding situations that might be spreading the virus. Honestly I do this to protect myself and family/friends, but I also do it because it seems the sensible thing to do. We are all in this together (globally) and we need to do whatever is necessary to protect each other from this virus and stop this pandemic from continuing.

I try not to get angry with those who don't/won't get vaccinated or refuse to wear a mask, etc. They are the ones truly in peril... but I can see how frustrating it is when the few make it necessary for those vaccinated to still stay home. Our family is not getting all together this Christmas (and didn't Thanksgiving - although we did see them each separately). We miss the big family get-togethers, but want to make sure that in the next few years we will all be around to return to this tradition.

Suemn said...

Tom, I agree with you on all of what you said.

Tom said...

I used to live in NY, and I'm now beginning to wonder if my adopted state of PA is a little backward. Our governor has tried some mandates, but he keeps getting stymied by the legislature. My county has an above average vaccination rate, which is good, but of limited use when the unvaccinated will not keep to themselves or even identify themselves.

I think of the unvaccinated a little like drunk drivers. A lot of times they're lucky and get away with it. But sometimes they kill themselves and sometimes they hurt or kill others.

Debra Foreman said...

Well said!

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

I completely agree. We attended a neighborhood party a few months ago. Being fully vaccinated was a requirement, no exceptions. That's the way to do it as far as I'm concerned. Actions (or, in this case, inactions) have consequences.

Red said...

I strongly agree that the vaccinated should not have to deal with the unvaccinated. Our province has made up strict rules that few follow and the govt. doesn't enforce them. That's what ticks me off.

Jack said...

I believe the booster is effective in protecting the vaccinated. Most of the precautions we use today were put in place before there was a vaccine. We should all take all precautions we feel necessary to keep ourselves healthy.

We exercise at the Gym 4 days a week most people are younger and they don't wear masks. We go out to eat and no-one is wearing a mask. We finished our Ballroom Dance lessons in November besides my wife and the only other people to wear masks were Asians. ​We decided to start living our lives again.

I choose not to worry whether someone is vaccinated or not.

ApacheDug said...

Also in agreement with you Tom, and as a fella Pennsylvanian I totally get where you're coming from in regards to Tom Wolfe (our governor). Anyway, if these people are afraid of needles I suppose that's one thing, but I will never understand how the vaccine tramples on their freedom. I think that's a cop out.

Wisewebwoman said...

Here we have the vax pass on our phones. An abundance of caution which keeps us all safe with low, low cases. Presented everywhere. One QR code to another. I don't understand countries who don't do this, bleating freedoms for themselves but eff you to the others who have to endure the risk.

And as an aside, a brother, doubled vaxxed and boostered, caught Covid from one such deviant.

He is 75 so suffered greatly, particularly psychologically, wondering how much worse it could get.

XO
WWW

Juhli said...

I also agree with you totally! I would add that I thing in the situations you cited the organizer and hostess were irresponsible in not setting vaccination or a negative test as an attendance requirement.

ain't for city gals said...

100% agree! The host of the gatherings should be the one to insist on vaccinated people only and let the unvaccinated stay home, not the other way around. I finally got enough to do that and do the same as you...ask first if I am going to an indoor gathering.

Tom said...

Jack, You're right ... most of the time, but not all the time as Wisewoman's brother illustrates. Juhli and Ain't, Yes, I guess that's what I was getting at, but you said it better. The host should be responsible and insist on vaccinations.

Jackie M said...

Thanks for writing this...it's exactly that I think. I live in Florida now having moved here from NYS. and I'm really worried about the way the entire situation is being handled here. I could go on but what's the point.
Good to read something that shows good judgment.

priscilla said...

I also agree with you Tom. It's not a political thing, it's a safety factor. Why people don't want to do the right thing drives me crazy!

Anonymous said...

If "your vaccine" works I don't understand why you worry about other people.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of influences from people in politics to saying no vaccination is personal freedom and freedom is above all our needs. It is mentioned many times by many people why they do not refuse to wear seat belt when driving or refuse to pay income tax when earning? They can say freedom is above all needs, and the need to follow the seat belt and tax laws... or any laws for the sake of freedom. Our society is so polarized that the group of people that wants freedom against masks and vaccination tend to be the group that push against the freedom of abortion. It is hypocritical to want rules for this but no rules for that. Laws are set up for the common goods; vaccination and masks is to control the pandemic, to ensure the health of people and economy. Once freedom in those area is just a political concept that is not worth too much as personal freedom. Honestly, comparing getting a needle and or a mask vs not able to have abortion or gunned down by automatic weapons.

Anonymous said...

This is another weak argument: "If "your vaccine" works I don't understand why you worry about other people." I hope I can help to clarify this: vaccines are not 100% effective but it improves situation a lot by statistics. Also, if vaccinated people get breakthrough infection, the consequences are lighter (i.e. much less % hospitalized or die). Similarly in terms of carrying the virus and infecting other people.

Therefore, why vaccinated people worry to be in close contact with vaccinated, it is because there is still chance of transmission. Why risk it?

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

While it's sometimes hard to believe that people won't get vaccinated, I find it harder to believe that people who are vaccinated feel it's fine to sit around with and eat with people who are not. But worse, is not wearing a mask when you're unvaccinated. It puts so many people at risk. My husband works in a senior living facility where all the residents and employees are vaccinated. But they can't control the vaccination status of the people the residents' visit. One unvaccinated person gave one resident covid and half the population then got covid, several employees did too. More than 9 residents died, even though they were vaccinated, they were still vulnerable. My husband got covid from this incident and now needs to see a cardiologist because of possible damage to his heart. Even though he is vaccinated and got a mild case, there are still lasting consequences. You are right to make the decisions that you do.

Jennifer said...

Because even if a person is vaccinated they can get a breakthrough infection and if they happen to have other serious health problems, Covid can still be deadly. My father had a breakthrough infection that almost killed him because he has congestive heart failure. If he hadn't been vaccinated, he would have died, as it was he spent a week in the ICU....so yes, we need to worry about other people. Then there are the people who honestly can't be vaccinated for one reason or another. Only selfish sociopaths don't care about protecting the vulnerable in our society!

Anonymous said...

Tom, this is about integrity and personal responsibility. You are correct.

Revoix said...

Right in synch with you Tom. It it is getting beyond tired, everybody dodging and weaving on their vaccine status. If folks choose to ignore science, that is their biz, but if they are endangering others by ignoring it, it's our biz. It's too bad you had to bow-out on the family gathering, but you and your wife did right, and I know my bride and I would have done exactly the same in that situation. We want to live!

Rita said...

I haven't been going out to eat in restaurants. When my daughter came for a visit from Madrid, I went into three restaurants in Seattle, eating a meal at two. I was shocked to see that when people got seated in the restaurant, they took off their masks. (People had to be vaccinated to get in.) I kept my mask on until I began eating and put it on again when I finished. I just don't understand why people aren't more careful. Even if you're vaccinated, you can spread covid and get it.

Kay said...

I agree with you 100%. Seriously! We went to a restaurant today. You had to show your vaccination card + ID to prove you were the person on the card. There were barriers between all the booths and whenever people left, a cleaning person would come out and disinfect all the surfaces. There are vaccinated people who can get a break through infection. I don't understand the reasoning of not asking for vaccination status.

Janette said...

Unpopular opinion here. You know you wanted one.
The CDC stated last week that more then half of the new COVID cases were both passed and received by fully inoculated people. Your shots help keep you out of the hospital. There are therapeutics if you do end up in the hospital. I am sorry that someone with congestive heart failure entered the hospital…it stinks to be in ill health. I had a good friend die of a heart attack 2 weeks after his second shot. Stinks.
I am a larger woman over 60. I have gotten my shots because. I weighed the risks. My husband is 70, he also chooses to get the shots. We also take Vit D, Zinc and get outside every single day. We live in unmasked, free flowing Idaho and know we take chances. Heck, we travel in Thailand when there was malaria…we are risk assessment people.
I know younger women who have left their careers because they are still trying to have families and are not convinced the shot is for them. Do I think they are right or wrong, I don’t know. No one knows for sure. Cops, EMT and even doctors are leaving their jobs.
Do you realize that it is almost becoming a minority discrimination issue in large cities where whites are 90% compliant and Blacks and Latinos are in the 50-60%. I listened to the ads two years ago driving into Baltimore telling people Trump was developing things to kill them….

Do we even care, as a society, that children- our children- especially poor and minority children are not developing because they do not see faces properly? Until a variant comes along that makes many children very ill - maybe we should concentrate on cancer or RSV or car accidents for children? How about mental health. To follow your man’s favorite saying, “come on man!”
I will be honest. I think the “me generation” is now in control. They are now 60- 80:years old and afraid.. Isn’t this the SAME group that said, “trust no one over 30 “and “Hell no I won’t go! “ and “ I can have sex with whoever I want” while the HIV epidemic roared on. Yet they are being DICtitorial about this illness. Last year there was reason. Now…
I fully support you not playing ping pong with people because you are scared. My dad was the same way when he wasn’t sure if people he knew did or did not have AIDS and we really had no good information about it. . Fear is a terrible way to live.
Get vaccinated. Take your 5,000mg of Vit D and Move forward- or stay home. You have choices.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I know people are burned out but if they all complied this nightmare would be over much sooner. I avoided going to a networking meeting I have attended for 20 years. I finally went because they had some holiday shopping and celebrated birthdays. (mine was that month) About 50 women attended and I was the only one in a mask. It was disheartening but the country club it was at didn't seem to care. I don't think I'll be back for a while.

Rajani Rehana said...

Super blog

Tom said...

Janette, thanks for your opinion which I respect. What you call fear, I call prudence. And all I'm saying to anyone is that if you're unvaccinated, please don't breathe on me. So I socialize with the vaccinated indoors, and with anybody outdoors. I consider that prudent.

Barbara said...

That is how I feel too. I can go to my sister's, my daughter's, and my sons house. However, two of my favorite friends are not vaccinated and won't be so I've only had telephone relationships with them after we had spent so much time together in the past. It really annoys.

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