No, we can’t just “agree to disagree” on this issue.
I’ve always been the kind of person who feels that we should all live and let live. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t care if you’re a diehard atheist or a devoted Christian. You have the right to be who and whatever you want to be — as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. That’s what America’s all about, right?
That’s why getting the Covid-19 vaccine isn’t a matter of “personal freedom” to me. Your decision not to get vaccinated does hurt other people. Here’s why that’s a big problem.
Toxic individualism has replaced the social contract
Not that long ago, we did certain things because they were for the common good. This was part of the social contract, the things you had to do to be part of society. One of the most obvious examples is vaccination.
For vaccines to be effective, you have to have a very high percentage of the population be vaccinated, usually well above 90 percent. There will always be those who are too young, too old, or too sick to get vaccinated.
There was a time — certainly within the last 30 years — when we all just did it without question because it was for the common good. Not anymore, though. We’ve become a nation of people who value our individualism over the rights of others. I would even call it toxic individualism.
This didn’t start with the Covid-19 vaccine, though it’s by far the most pronounced example. Thanks to people deciding not to get their children vaccinated, we’ve had recurrences of outbreaks of measles and pertussis.
I was unlucky enough to have caught the latter about 10 years ago and it was beyond miserable. I coughed so hard I saw stars (and sometimes wet my pants) from March until June. I can’t even imagine a baby or a person with cancer experiencing that.
Survival of the fittest isn’t a good way to run a society
I recently asked an anti-vaxxer friend if she believed that the polio vaccine should be a matter of personal choice, too. She said yes and that I should respect her right to choose differently.