When I read the COVID-19 statistics in the paper each day, my thoughts turn to the humans that they represent and how they came to be part of the epidemic statistics. For instance, when I read of the death of an 80-year-old, I ask myself how this happened. Was the person a vaccine refusenik, for instance? Or is he or she living alone in an isolated existence without television, radio, newspaper to provide the information needed to make a wise decision or even be aware of the need for this information. Or, living alone, was he or she at the mercy of others to provide for her needs like getting transportation to the vaccine delivery site?

This makes me wonder if we should be having health officers going door to door to check on the welfare of the residents and provide vaccines if needed.

This could prove to be a needed service, not only in isolated rural areas, but poorer inner-city neighborhoods. I read that people living in nonwhite, big city neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to epidemics.

I find it difficult to understand why so many care so little about their own health and safety that they will refuse to get this vaccine. They are more concerned about protecting their rights to make their own decisions about getting vaccinated than they are their overall health and safety and that of those around them.

I’m aware that there is a group of people who refuse to believe anything bad can happen to them. Warnings are for other people. These people will live their lives just as they choose to, regardless of the needs of society. The only reason they obey any laws is to stay out of jail or the courtroom.

The people who get my goat the most are those parents who deny these safeguards for their children, especially those who, if they are school age, are living in a world of germs and exposure to disease. For a parent to refuse protection for their children is, in my mind, criminal and a gross dereliction of parental responsibility.

Over the 90 years of my life, I have lived through several epidemics. I remember as a child, being quarantined for measles.

The county health nurse brought signs to put on our door keeping everyone not in the immediate family out. My father and mother could come and go, but I had to stay home and no one else was allowed in. I remember standing in line at school to receive whatever vaccine was offered. I had to have a signed form-letter from home asking for it. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was the most common and had to be renewed every year.

I believe that vaccines for measles, mumps and chickenpox came years later. Because we have been able to vaccinate widely, deadly diseases such as polio and smallpox have been virtually eliminated worldwide.

I suspect that a lot of today’s refuseniks are too young to remember those years we had without vaccines to treat the rampant epidemics that swept through the world killing off or causing permanent damage to so many.

Since those years, we have learned much more about creating vaccines which is why we were able to create several so quickly while this epidemic is still in progress.

While at my next doctor appointment, I plan on getting my booster shot. I cherish the peace of mind it will provide me.

At 90 I still plan on living another 10 years and I’d like to spend them in good health and the best physical condition possible. I can only hope that there are many, many more who feel exactly the same as I do on this subject and act accordingly and I hope each of you readers are among them. Together, we can make a difference.

Harding lives in Pullman and is a longtime League of Women Voters member. She also has served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at lj1105harding@gmail.com.

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