The Common Good

Stewart Reed, administrator of the Brian Center Cabarrus, was among the first to receive his covid-19 vaccine at the nursing home’s clinic on Jan. 14, 2021. (Aneri Pattani)

The good news is the level of vaccinations around the country is up. As of March 10, “At least 62,451,150 people or 19.0 percent of the population have received at least one dose,” reports USA Facts Covid vaccine tracker. “Overall, 32,904,161 people or 10.0 percent have been fully vaccinated.”

NPR reports (Mar. 10), “President Biden has declared a goal of getting 100 million shots into arms in the first 100 days of his administration — an effort that stretches from late January through April….

“On February 11, President Biden announced the federal government has inked deals to purchase 600 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna, to be delivered by the summer. The federal government also announced that it is using the Defense Production Act to help smooth other bottlenecks, such as limited supplies of syringes or protective gear.”

Now for the bad news.

“Despite the unprecedented rollout of three COVID-19 vaccines, 25% of Americans in a new poll from Monmouth University said they are still unwilling to be vaccinated,” The University of Minnesota reports.

Many experts believe that without 70% to 80% of the public gaining COVID-19 immunity through infection or vaccination, herd immunity will be difficult for the nation to obtain, especially because 24% of the population is children, who are as yet ineligible for vaccination.

“The poll showed that an unwillingness to get vaccinated still falls along party lines, with 36 percent of Republicans saying they will avoid the vaccine, compared to just 6 percent of Democrats. Overall, about 60 percent of those polled said they believed Biden is handling the pandemic well.”

Once again, we have politicized what should be common sense given that 528,000 deaths have occurred in the past year and that number continues to grow every day.

“Common sense is not so common,” the French philosopher and wit, Voltaire wrote.

Sadly too many place ideology before the health and safety of themselves and their families.

It never used to be that way.

“My grandfather,” a friend writes, “graduated Columbia College (now University) and attended medical school at Columbia. After he decided to concentrate on diseases of the chest he located to the Catskills (Liberty, NY), had a local practice but also visited a ‘circuit’ of sanitariums and patients as far away as Saranac Lake.

“In the days before anti-biotics, I remember my grandfather talking about how he was one of a great number of doctors who advocated for the common good by eliminating and/or reducing transmission of tuberculosis, one of a number of scourges. He told me he saw too many people die from TB and other diseases – again, before anti-biotics. But, he emphasized the national will to combat such diseases and the trust and belief in medical science to find cures. Scourges could be eliminated through the miracles of modern science. I don’t recall much if any discussion on not helping to eliminate dreaded diseases by not getting vaccinated.

“I remember in the 1960s waiting in a long line to receive the Sabin vaccine, the oral poliomyelitis vaccine developed by Dr. Albert S. Sabin. I liked that it was taken on a sugar cube. If there were debates and arguments about the need to combat deadly diseases by eschewing vaccines, I don’t remember them. There was, it seemed to me, always what was in the best interest of all Americans.”

When will we return to that time, a time of common good when Americans trusted medical science?

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