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Freedom of Choice



A week ago, I got a call from a friend who works at our local pharmacy. They had a half-dozen doses of COVID-19 vaccine that, if not used by 6 p.m. that evening, would be tossed away due to expiration mandates. "Do you want to come in for a shot?" I was asked. Is the sky blue? Is water wet? Is Mike Lee an arrogant ass? Is Sean Reyes a dangerous clown? Is Chris Stewart a fawning partisan? "Of course, I would!" I said, and the race was on. I fit the Gov. Cox criteria and was scheduled to get my first shot in a few weeks anyway. Now, someone else will get my shot, and the vax I got wasn't wasted. It was luck, not efficiency.

A couple weeks earlier, my 93-year-old mother, after maneuvering through a maze of bureaucracy trying to get any appointment at all (finally slotted for mid-March), got a similar call from a health-care worker. She was rushed to the county facility, then waited in line for nearly four hours to get her first shot. I was expecting something similar but was in and out in less than five minutes. Waiting for the vaccine has been a trying experience for most of us, and the point of the above is to simply note that, despite it all—the naysayers, the non-maskers, the Trump-is-a-golden-calf worshippers—for most sane people, getting a vaccine is going to be a gamechanger. My mom got her second Pfizer shot yesterday—with only a 15-minute wait. For the first time in a year, thinking of the visits and hugs to come, she slept through the whole night. Such is the relief she felt.

We all felt it. Like nearly all families, ours has not been spared of COVID. Almost a dozen of us have gotten COVID, despite that each to a person has no idea how they contracted it and each saying they were taking precautions. This past year, we've each defined our own version of "precautions," right? The range of our family's COVID severity teeters from "I didn't feel a thing" to weird extended symptoms and scary hospital stays. Anyone still thinking COVID is a hoax, a liberal plot or a "China Virus" conspiracy against Donald Trump (why would China kill Brazilians and Italians just to get at Trump?) can lustily kiss my Greek kolo.

For some reason, the loss of more than 500,000 Americans doesn't register among us all as it ought to. Too many still say it isn't real. They continue to cluster maskless in braindead Utah communities such as Saratoga Springs and St. George (hub of the crazy death-rate ratios in Washington County. What gives, Dixie?).

However, if you want to know how real COVID is, just look to Donald Trump. He and his wife, Melania, both had the virus back in October, but this January, each secretly got a COVID vaccine in the White House before he left office. Trump may be a wildly deceptive cynic when it comes to fleecing his delusional base, but like the coward he was with his bone spurs, dodging the 1960s' draft, he remains a person fully involved in self-protection. For the first time in four years, I thus go on record as asking each of you to follow the example of Donald Trump: Get a shot.

The first vaccine I remember receiving was for polio, and I was more scared than happy to get it. But the images of kids inside their "iron lung" machines were enough to send any self-respecting 6-year-old to the doctor's office. We had vaccine shots for other diseases, too, a seeming litany of doctor visits that lasted most of my childhood. It's funny, but I hardly remember any of my birthdays, ceremonies or rituals, but I remember all of those needles.

For polio, though, there was also another method, the sugar cube. Kids were gathered in a hall and handed pink sugar cubes, the pink tone apparently derived of the vaccine to be ingested. While everyone hated the inoculations that drove most of us to tears, I never lost a friend or loved one to polio, smallpox, chicken pox, mumps or the measles.

Today, there is a large segment of anti-vaxxers out there. Counted among them are persons with real and deeply personal reasons for fearing COVID or any other vaccination. I give those folks a hall pass. But the power of numbers don't lie, and no passage is given by me to those who are anti-vaxxers predicated on obtuse theories spouted on late-night TV, noon-time AM talk radio or via cross-eyed secret messages on social media. To them, I simply say, JFK Jr. is indeed a dead Kennedy, pizza tastes better without a Hillary Clinton sex-scandal topping and on March 4, Joe Biden will still be president of the United States, so take your wild conspiracy theories to a safe place and be gone.

A friendly reminder, however: if that safe place is St. George or Saratoga Springs, you won't be safe for long because coronavirus is out to get you, and it will get you if you keep up your silly ways.

I know of such things. Among the side effects of my own COVID vaccination—besides that my Bill Gates tracking device sets off car alarms of vehicles in the parking lot—is that I've become able to predict the future. And here's it is: People who get the vaccine will freely return sooner to a normal life. Those who do not get the vaccine will die in greater ratios than those who do.

Freedom or death. Easy choice.

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