I have seen posts online that expressed frustration with all of the dangerous people out there who refused to social distance, wear masks or to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  There were suggestions that we call them out, that they be denied medical care or denied employment, etc.  The point being, in part, you might cause someone’s death and so you deserve to be treated as a danger.

OK, let me say that I believe in the vaccine. I have had it and I encourage others to get it.  I social distanced (and was actually out of work for two months due to falling ER volumes).  I wore a mask.  I get it.

But let’s try something. Let’s insert other conditions into the same discussion.

‘If you don’t stop using Heroin, then you should be fined or kept from any work at all until you do because you are expensive to society and spread diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.’

‘If you don’t stop drinking alcohol and driving, then you should not be allowed to work until you do because you may kill someone and are expensive to society.’

‘If you murdered someone (actually, not theoretically), you don’t deserve to leave prison.  You also don’t deserve medical care. And if you get out of prison, you don’t get to have a job. You’re a killer.’

‘If you knowingly had unprotected sex while having HIV or Hepatis C (or even gonorrhea or chlamydia) you are a danger and don’t deserve medical care.  Or maybe a job.’

‘If you wrecked your car because of distracted driving, then you don’t get medical care because you’re dangerous. And you can’t ever drive again.’

‘If you are still using methamphetamine, you don’t get to have a job because you’re unstable, unpredictable, and possibly infected or infecting others due to injecting the drug.  You also don’t get healthcare because you put others at risk.

Of course, we should never do any of that. So why is it different when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine?  We all know people make bad decisions and do things they shouldn’t. And we know we can’t go around punishing them for every bad decision.

I think it’s because vaccine hesitation and resistance to public health measures are mostly (but not exclusively) associated with one side of the political aisle. And so it’s OK to punish them, harm them, disenfranchise them and maybe even deny them healthcare.


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