This arti­cle is part 7 of 7 in the series Other Bad Bugs We Have Known

At one time, all the dis­eases list­ed below were major pub­lic health prob­lems. Scientists and doc­tors devel­oped a vac­cine for each of them. The vac­cine either erad­i­cat­ed the dis­ease or made it less of a threat to the pub­lic. Thanks to the vac­cines, you prob­a­bly have not heard of many of these diseases.

You are already vac­ci­nat­ed for some of them. For oth­ers, you no longer need the vac­cine because enough peo­ple in the past had the com­mon sense to get vac­ci­nat­ed and the dis­ease is no longer a prob­lem. Several of the dis­eases are not endem­ic to the U.S. so you only need a vac­cine if you are trav­el­ing abroad.

Here is the list: Adenovirus, Anthrax, Chickenpox, Cholera, Dengue fever, Diphtheria, Ebola, Hib, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis E, Human papil­lo­mavirus, Influenza, Japanese encephali­tis, Malaria, Measles, Meningococcal, Mumps, Pneumococcal,  Pertussis (Whooping Cough,) Polio, Rabies, Rotavirus, Rubella, Shingles, Smallpox, Tetanus, Tick-borne encephali­tis, Tuberculosis, Typhoid fever, Varicella, Yellow fever.

Here is the list of the major dis­eases where a safe and effec­tive vac­cine is avail­able but not enough peo­ple will take it to end the dis­ease. Or, where the vac­cine is not yet avail­able to peo­ple who would love to have it.

3 clear glass bottles on table

COVID-19.

Here is the list of all the dis­eases where pol­i­tics inter­fered to try to pre­vent vaccinations.

COVID-19.

In all the dis­eases list­ed above, except for COVID-19, the vast major­i­ty of Americans of every race, reli­gion, social and eco­nom­ic class, and every polit­i­cal par­ty unit­ed for the com­mon good. They got vac­ci­nat­ed to end the dis­ease. Bringing pol­i­tics into our cur­rent major health cri­sis is prob­a­bly the most irra­tional, absurd, and down­right-brain­dead stu­pid­est thing we have ever done as a nation. Not to men­tion, deadly.

No vac­cine is per­fect. It’s a mat­ter of risk ver­sus reward. Some peo­ple will expe­ri­ence neg­a­tive effects. Some will die. However, vac­cines have proven that the odds that you will ben­e­fit far, far out­weigh the odds that you will not.

It’s kind of like the oppo­site of play­ing the lot­tery. In the lot­tery, your odds of win­ning ten mil­lion bucks are very, very, slim. With a vac­ci­na­tion, your odds of beat­ing or pre­vent­ing the dis­ease are pret­ty darn good.

In the lot­tery, some­one, out of the mil­lions play­ing, will win. And they get all the press. People ignore the odds and keep playing.

With our Covid vac­ci­na­tions, mil­lions win and a very few lose. But those few get so much press cov­er­age that way too many peo­ple ignore the win­ners and sup­port the loser.

Apparently, we need a vac­cine to com­bat our grow­ing nation­wide lack of com­mon sense.

In the war between pub­lic health and infec­tious dis­eases, there are always small groups of anti-vaxxers will­ing to let oth­ers fight the bat­tle for them. But until now, enough Americans had the courage to bare their arms and get the shot to end the crisis.

No doubt you have heard the state­ment: “There are a lot of doc­tors against the vac­cine.” That state­ment is true, but not real­ly. Suppose you’re sit­ting in the house with all the cur­tains drawn and your favorite paper bag over your head. The radio is on and some mean-spir­it­ed loud-mouth who knows noth­ing about sci­ence is spew­ing all kinds of lies and dis­tor­tions. You tell your spouse, “The world is awful­ly dark.”

OK. For you, that’s true. Your spouse, hav­ing more sense than you, sug­gests that you turn off the radio, take the bag off your head, and step out­side for a minute. Which you do, and son-of-a-gun; it’s noon, not a cloud in the sky, and the sun is shin­ing bright.

That’s the greater truth behind the “lot of doc­tors against…” argument.

About eight months ago, the American Medical Association want­ed to know how many of its doc­tors were vac­ci­nat­ed for the COVID-19 virus. 96% were ful­ly vac­ci­nat­ed. Of the remain­ing 4%, almost half said they were going to get vac­ci­nat­ed soon. So we’re up to around 98%. All this was pre-Omicron, so I will make an edu­cat­ed guess that we’re now some­where in the neigh­bor­hood of 99%.

But there are a lot of doc­tors. So, the anti-vaxxers scrounged around and assem­bled a small group of those one-in-a-hun­dred unvac­ci­nat­ed doc­tors. And we, the pub­lic, are then sup­posed to believe they know more than 99% of the doctors.

Let’s put this into per­spec­tive. Suppose you get this awful pain on the low­er right side of your bel­ly. Anytime you cough, or even walk, it hurts like crazy. Things get worse. Even though you’re a tough guy, you decide to go see a doc­tor. Doctor #1 asks some ques­tions and pokes around on your bel­ly. You scream like the dick­ens. The doc­tor says, “Appendicitis. That sucker’s got­ta come out. If it bursts, you might die.” 

That’s not what you want­ed to hear so you go to Doctor #2, who tells you the same thing. So does Doctor #3. And Doctor #4. And #5, and so on up through Doctor #99. Being a tough guy, you try one more time.

And final­ly, this doc­tor tells you what you want to hear: “That’s no big deal. Probably just a lit­tle indi­ges­tion. Don’t wor­ry about it.” That sounds good to you so you go home con­tent. Then your appen­dix bursts and you die. But at least you lis­tened to a doc­tor. Unfortunately, the wrong one.

Use your com­mon sense. Get vac­ci­nat­ed. Let’s end this.

  • David made scaled-down, tra­di­tion­al Appalachian musi­cal instru­ments for chil­dren. Thousands of ele­men­tary stu­dents from across the state enjoyed his hands-on Appalachian music and her­itage pro­gram. He also worked with folks from six coun­ties for the cre­ation of the Appalachian Heritage Monument—a world-class venue that would rebrand Eastern Kentucky in a pos­i­tive light. (Still work­ing on it.) David lives in Valeria, Wolfe County, Kentucky.

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