Despite the almost miraculous development of effective and safe vaccines, which provided the possibility of ending the pandemic and returning life to normal, some states, politicians, and groups are actively fighting against vaccines to prevent COVID-19.  Their stated reasons are varied but are alarmingly ignorant and based on lies and misinformation. 

When I was a kid in grade school, we all lined up for our polio vaccines, and this horrible disease was eliminated. It was our patriotic duty as Americans to help eradicate a crippling disease, and we all realized a tiny stick in the arm was much preferable to the disease. It is astonishing that a large group of politicians and an entire “news” network have decided to campaign against free and safe vaccinations. 

Given these treasonous efforts by the Fox Network and many Republican governors to keep the pandemic going and to kill as many American as they can, we need to consider another approach. The decision to refuse to be vaccinated has consequences that affect the individual (who may get sick and die) but also the greater society (who suffer from prolongation of the pandemic and greater risk for all). Hospitals in southern Illinois and in many mostly southern states have no ICU beds left, and consequently people with other health problems (surgeries, transplants, etc.) cannot be treated, and medical first-responders are once again overworked and stressed out. Another less obvious but serious consequence of vaccine refusal is the cost of treatment of the many unvaccinated who contract COVID-19 and are hospitalized.  

The antibody treatment for COVID-19 costs $2,100 per dose, and supplies are running low, especially in southern states where vaccine refusal is rampant [1]. The federal government pays for this expensive treatment, for a disease that is preventable by a much cheaper vaccine. The refuse-niks should bear some or all of the cost of their treatment because they decided to refuse the vaccine. Why should responsible, patriotic American taxpayers be forced to pay for their poor decisions? 

One reasonable approach would be to charge unvaccinated individuals a monthly COVID-19 insurance fee. Insurance actuaries could easily calculate a fair surcharge that would cover the extra cost of COVID-19 treatment. The surcharge could be deducted from the paychecks of workers or from the Social Security checks of those who are retired. 

I suspect that when we force people to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, they would make better decisions.

[1] “Shunning Shot, But Lining Up For Antibodies.” New York Times, Sept. 19, p. 1

Tom DeCoursey, Oak Park 

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