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Tough Love in the Time of COVID

There were headlines in this newspaper recently that health care workers, not vaccinated for COVID, would not be allowed to work. At the same time, there were other news accounts that the COVID infection rate had reached a high of 8.9% in the County, and there was a personal, family story of a young girl infected by COVID and her fight to stay alive which had put her in the hospital.

Whether we like it not, these are issues now being faced in our community. They are also matters of life and death, not leaving much room for compromise or friendly disagreement.

In my own view, we are now at a stage in the COVID epidemic where, if you are adamantly opposed to being vaccinated, then there are probably places that you shouldn’t be–and one of those places is working in health care facilities or nursing homes.

We know that the virus is deadly and highly contagious. We know that this is especially true of new variants of the disease. We also know that over 90% of the people now being hospitalized for COVID are the unvaccinated. All of this is evidence that the vaccination program is working and needed. If you don’t want to participate in it–then you should be limited in your ability to spread the disease in order to protect the general public.

There is a powerful country song titled “Daddy’s Hand” written by Holly Dunn. It describes a simple, yet profound truth, especially in one stanza:

“Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand

There was always love in daddy’s hands”

Sometimes in life there is tough love. Sometimes we can put ourselves in a predicament where what seems to be cruel or unreasonable treatment, is actually something that is being done for our own or the greater good.

That is the predicament I believe people have put themselves in who have chosen not to be vaccinated in our battle to defeat COVID. There are places where they shouldn’t go: whether it is to work in the healthcare field or to attend a Bill’s game. Until we have beaten this disease, we will need to restrict places where the unvaccinated can go.

This is not an easy value judgment to make in our society. We cherish our individual rights and choices.

It would be nice if communicable diseases were selective in their infection targets. Unfortunately, they target us all. I don’t recall as a kid people asking to be exempt from a vaccine to protect us against polio. As I remember, every kid in school took that vaccine.

That is the way I see our current situation. Getting vaccinated is an opportunity to protect ourselves, our communities and our country. If people choose not to get vaccinated, then society may need to exercise “tough love” in order to protect the health of everyone.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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