Where I Stand:

America needs a good shot in the arm


Steve Marcus

Carol O’Donnell gets vaccinated during a COVID-19 pop-up vaccination clinic, for seniors age 70 and above, in the gymnasium of Jerome Mack Middle School Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.

“People who want shots can get them.”

So say the experts when asked the question about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines now that the Biden administration has taken charge.

Whether that is true (I believe it is mostly accurate), it strikes me as the right answer to the wrong question. In fact, the only questions we should be asking are: Have you been vaccinated yet? Or when will you be vaccinated?

There seems to be far too many people who find reasons, legitimate or not, to avoid doing what is best and right and moral and good neighborly — that is getting vaccinated to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe, and the mortality rate from COVID-19 down into the manageable range — as if any preventable deaths are something to be managed.

As incredulous as that reluctance sounds in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, logic must somehow prevail. That means anyone who deals in any way with the public — serves them, protects them, teaches them and cares for them or even sits alongside them — should get vaccinated. No exceptions.

Children, too, should be inoculated against COVID as soon as our national health experts give their approval to vaccines for youngsters under 16, lightening the load of untold stress on parents

That doesn’t mean everyone has to be vaccinated. What it means is that anyone who wants to be part of public discourse during a pandemic has to protect themselves and others from getting sick. And that means unless you have been vaccinated the normal tasks we do on a daily basis — go to restaurants, fly on planes, go to sporting events and concerts, and participate in public outings, protests, meetings and anything having to do with public activities — are off limits.

You don’t have to have a shot, but if you don’t you can’t do whatever you like because you will jeopardize others.

I am surprised some enterprising lawyer hasn’t figured out that knowingly exposing others to a disease or expressing wanton disregard for the well-being of others — via human contact, be it one sneeze, a cough or a yodel within aerosol range — could provide the elements of an assault.

Can you imagine multiple lawsuits demanding large money damages from people who were complicit in passing along the COVID-19 virus to others? I wasn’t a great lawyer but I at least had an imagination. And even I can imagine some smart, hungry personal injury lawyers going to town over people who went to town without being vaccinated when they knew it could protect themselves and others.

And what about business owners? Now that the vaccines are becoming available to almost everyone, what is their liability for inviting customers to their businesses without doing their damndest to make sure it is safe for those patrons i.e., that all of their customers have been vaccinated? I am sure that the liability insurance carriers will have something to say if the spread continues while many Americans remain reluctant to get vaccinated.

There is nothing coercive about this line of thinking. Those who don’t want to get the shots — for whatever reasons — will not be shunned by others. They will just not be allowed to gather where others gather, participate where shot-protected others participate, and learn in schools where teachers, administrators, students and others who have to be. Those in education should be given the same respect as we give to the general community. But, in the case of teachers, even more so.

So, it is nice to know that — contrary to the past administration’s COVID-19 debacle — the new administration is leading the way forward to the point where every American who wants to get the vaccine can do so.

But that is just the beginning. To get anywhere near the end of this COVID carnage, we must each be ready, willing and able to give ourselves the shot in the arm that this country needs right now.

And, yes, wear a mask while doing it.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.