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Jim Crawford: To be or not to be…vaccinated

Thanks to mostly scientific progress and vaccines that have nearly eradicated polio, have managed to make HIV not a death sentence, with half the planet now free from malaria; measles, mumps, and whooping cough are nearly eradicated, and the infant mortality has fallen fully 50 percent since 1990.

Vaccines may be the single greatest health advance in human history, yet today America is at war over the very vaccines that are saving thousands of American lives daily.

The COVID-19 vaccines have reduced deaths from the pandemic faster and with greater success than any other nation on the planet. Once vaccinated, the chances of a fatal contraction of the virus are but a tiny fraction of those infected.

If Americans would fully embrace the vaccines, the nation could achieve what is called “herd immunity,” a level of protection that leaves the virus nowhere to spread in the population. Effectively, the threat of the virus dies, and all Americans are safer in that outcome.

But herd immunity will not happen in America — not because there is a shortage of vaccine, there is a plentiful supply throughout the country; not because it is expensive, it is free everywhere; not because it is dangerous and risky, the lives saved this year speak to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. No, herd immunity will remain unlikely because Republican politics ignore the value of the life-saving vaccines.

Republican legislatures in places like Ohio and Florida and Texas have, or are attempting to pass, anti-vaccine laws that forbid businesses and industry and requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof of any employee or customer, creating a standing invitation for the virus to continue to grow and spread undetected.

Would you want your hospital staff member to further risk your health by not being vaccinated? Would you welcome the close quarters of a 4,000-passenger cruise not knowing if the boat was filled with unvaccinated staff or passengers?

The Florida anti-vaccination passport law has been passed and became effective on July 1. The law allows a $5,000 fine per incidence for anyone asking or requiring vaccination proof for employment or patrons. The law also suspends any mask-wearing requirements in Florida. It should be noted the 75 percent of Floridians disagree with the new law, not that Republican lawmakers care about the voters’ preferences or voter safety. DeSantis cares about becoming the Republican candidate for president in 2024.

Yes, Republicans are steadfast in their distrust of science and vaccinations. Consider the tweet of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia: “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”

Greene later retracted this absurd comment under pressure from other Republicans fearing the loss of their Jewish supporters, but readers can grasp Greene’s point…the unvaccinated deserve to be unidentified and available to silently continue to spread the virus.

Meanwhile, industries are quietly requiring their employees to be vaccinated. Methodist Hospital in Texas this month fired 153 employees who refused to be vaccinated.

Universities are requiring returning students to be vaccinated. Cruise lines are considering changing their sailings from the Florida insanity of anti-passport to ports more rational for the safety of cruise passengers.

Our Republican friends will seemingly continue to reject the science and the evidence of how to stop the spread of the pandemic, but it is not the first time they have rejected scientific fact…as a party they still think climate change is a fiction.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.