All too many Americans, many encouraged by right-wing Trump-loving disbelievers, are refusing the Covid 19 vaccines, putting the rest of us in jeopardy. But tragedy, when it hits home, has a way of changing peoples' minds.
As President Biden stepped up his campaign to increase the lagging vaccination rate in the face of the deadly and highly contagious Delta variant, one victim, as he lay dying, sent a text to his fiancé that read:
"I should have gotten the damn vaccine," wrote Michael Freedy, the 39-year-old father to his fiancé, Jessica DuPreez, who said the couple just wanted to wait a year to see how effective the vaccines were before getting the shots themselves.
A deadly decision. Freedy died last Thursday.
"My kids don’t have a dad anymore because we hesitated,” DuPreez said on CNN. “ … I would take a bad reaction to the vaccine over having to bury my husband. I would take that any day.”
So for Freedy, the decision apparently was one of hesitancy, not one caused by political beliefs, as has been the case with so many Americans, as The New York Times cited a poll that found that 47 percent were unlikely to get vaccinated.
Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the famed infectious disease doctor who's been targeted and abused by the political right, stressed that the vaccinations are highly effective even though incidents of "breakthrough" infections have been reported.
Vaccinated individuals who contract the virus, he said, are far less likely to become seriously ill than those who have not had the shots. While many may have no symptoms at all, they can still spread covid-19 because the Delta variant is extremely contagious, he said, explaining why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now advises fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Many politicians, largely supporters of former president Donald Trump, who so often belittled the virus, continue to resist masking recommendations and refuse to impose new restrictions in their jurisdictions.
Republican leaders in numerous red states defied the updated masking guidance from the CDC, reopening the culture war over pandemic restrictions. Apparently they hope to score points with constituents who are tired of wearing masks and being told to stay away from one another in public places.
Changing His Tune
But Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd, a Republican, has changed his tune since he almost died after an eight-month battle with covid-19 that included a liver transplant.
“It is a disease that wants to kill us,” state Rep. David Byrd (R) said in a statement Friday, the day after Biden announced tough new requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated. The president even urged state governments to provide $100 payments to people who willingly get a shot.
Byrd, 63, in his statement, described how he spent 55 days on a ventilator, how covid-19 ravaged his memory, his muscles and his organs, forcing him to have a liver transplant in June. His condition was so grave that his family began planning his funeral. Emphasizing that covid-19 is “very dangerous,” Byrd advised people to get vaccinated.
“This is not an issue that should divide us,” he wrote.
Take it from Sen. Larry Graham (R-SC), one of Trump's strongest supporters, who just reported testing positive for covid-19 despite being vaccinated. Here's what he tweeted:
“I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for #COVID19 even after being vaccinated. I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning,” Graham tweeted. “I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms. I will be quarantining for ten days. I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.”
Enough said. Get the vax. Get the #FauciOuchi.