For whatever reason, there are a fair number of people that have little interest in a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. I have spoken to some who are ambivalent, and others who are fearful. I heard from one who is beyond those, expressing downright opposition to vaccination, and not just personally. That individual feels that vaccines should be avoided societally. These conversations have reminded me that "people are different," as Florida Georgia Linereminded with their 2019 release.
There are interesting observations about vaccines, their efficacy, and herd immunity in the recent post Vaccinations Implications (2021). That post also discusses the perceptions of some in the medical community regarding the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Suffice it to say that there is not 100% acceptance even among that population. Significant numbers of medical professionals have either declined the vaccination or are delaying their own inoculation for the time being. What do we lay-people conclude from their reticence or delay?
May we assume that everyone recognizes the benefits of vaccination? No, we may not. May we assume that everyone concedes that there are at least some benefit to vaccination? No, we may not. May we assume that on any topic in America today we can find both ardent proponents and violent opposition? Well, that seems reasonably likely lately. I had one person express surprise at my openness to vaccine, and was asked "don't you remember Thalidomide?" That seems a bit over-the-top. Perhaps there are some topics upon which we might unanimously agree as a society, but I am not sure what the topics would be.
It is not just an American conflict, this vaccine. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reports that in Australia there are protests about the vaccine even before its distribution has begun. Pfizer's vaccine is set for immediate delivery, and the "Oxford" vaccine (AstraZeneca) is expected to be delivered within weeks. Protest participants chanted privacy-referenced slogans such as "my body, my choice." Their reticence is curious, as the Australian plan provides free inoculation, but is said to be entirely voluntary. One strives to understand how such a plan violates anyone's personal freedom or privacy.
So, there are some folks who are unwilling to accept the vaccine, at this time.
But, there are various reports of others who are very eager to obtain an injection (or two). In Polk County Florida, the winner of "Paramedic of the Year" was arrested for stealing the vaccine. That story makes references to "falsified" documents, and others who may have been aware of, or involved in, diversion of vaccine. CBS News reports that a Fire Captain in Polk County was also arrested in that investigation.
CNN reported recently about a vehicle theft at the "Strawberry Festival Grounds in Plant City (Florida)." There were vials of the vaccine in the car (which was reportedly left unattended and running; side note, not a wise maneuver). The reports are not clear regarding whether the intended target was vaccine or merely the car. KTLA reported the vaccine was worth approximately $10,000.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported theft of the vaccine from Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. That theft was of two vials, also reportedly worth about $10,000.
There have been reports of people selling fake vaccine in Washington, Mexico, China, and even the otherwise pristine bastion of truth and integrity, social media. When we cannot trust Facebook, where are we as a society?
WLKY in Louisville reported recently on a "substantial lack of morality" as noted by the Clark County Health Department as Indiana transitioned to a new phase of vaccine eligibility based on age. The Health Department says "People are lying about their residence, about their job location or duties, and about their age as they hand us their driver's license." It continues that "some have been turned away. Some have been caught only after sending their less-able-to-lie-convincingly co-workers to the site after they were successful."
Remember when people lied about their age for such mundane and banal reasons as obtaining alcohol?
In California, it was lying teachers. In Canada, it was "wealthy people." Elsewhere, it was allegedly "rich, white New Yorkers." National Public Radio suggests that the absence of immediate "universal access" to the vaccines places people "in the position where they are encountering moral dilemmas." NPR concludes that the whole process "can all seem pretty unfair." Why is it that only rich people get Ferraris and Lamborghinis? I have always wanted one, and that I don't have one seems "pretty unfair" sometimes.
Back in third grade, I remember Mrs. Hutchinson telling us all that she perceived we generally live in circumstances that are less than fair. She suggested that we get used to it. Maybe it is a good thing that the world is finally now evolving to a place of undeniable human equity and egalitarianism? Perhaps all human suffering and injustice will fade to the annals of history as we enter the new age of utopia? Or, is Bill Gates correct (whether he said it or not) in echoing Mrs. Hutchinson: "get used to it?" An intriguing suggestion from Travis Bradberry is that perhaps recitations on fairness say more of the speaker than of the fairness.
"Everyone knows that life isn't fair. Saying it's not fair suggests that you think life is supposed to be fair, which makes you look immature and naïve."
However, my favorite news story on theft comes from Florida. NPR reports that two women in Florida posed as "grannies" in order to obtain the vaccine. They allegedly wore "the bonnets, the gloves, the glasses, the whole thing." Their actual ages were allegedly 34 and 44. One official quoted in the story lamented that this is not exceptional, with an official noting: "some people could squeeze in, so it's (deception) probably higher than we suspect."
Florida sometimes makes international news. This "grannies" story has. It has been featured in India, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Some outlets quoted claims that this disguise scheme was the same as having "stolen a vaccine."
Thus, we find ourselves in an intriguing dichotomy. A great many people who are entitled to the vaccine are not taking the opportunity for whatever reason. A fair few others who are not entitled to the vaccine are striving through imagination, obfuscation, and even criminality to obtain it. Seemingly, some stand on the deck of the Titanic denying and others are dressing as old ladies to sneak into the lifeboats. It is an interesting time, this utopia in which we live.
Where would you come down? If you are eligible, will you line up? If the random chance arises, as it reportedly did in early January for two in Washington, would you take the shot? Suddenly, the eligibility in Miami changed this weekendwith the announcement of availability for those 55 years old (instead of 65), if the person suffers from one of thirteen medical diagnoses (with a note from your doctor). If you had such a condition, would you jump at this new chance?
If through some happenstance you have the opportunity, how will you react? These are interesting times. Many are pent-up, frustrated, and scared. But, taking a COVID-19 vaccine at this time necessarily means one of your neighbors may go without. How are we equipped for this moral dilemma? Can we individually, collectively, societally do what is "fair?" Or, will each of us act in our own best interest? As the song reminds us, "People are Different," maybe we just have to accept that in our new, utopian, even brave world? Things simply become curiouser and curiouser.
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