Open Letter to the People Who Refuse To Get Vaccinated

Photo by Marisol Benitez on Unsplash

Animosity is brewing, like the sizzling of water in a pot before turning into a roaring boil. There is no doubt. After a year of uncertainty, anxiety and despair, of lockdowns and the full stop of our lives as we knew them, we began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Modern science gave us in record time the dagger to defeat the beast, showing us what human ingenuity is capable of when we put the money and intention behind it. And yet, our lives are not back to normal. The ICU’s are overrun with dying patients; more children than ever before are hooked up to IV’s and ventilators. Can you imagine their innocent hearts, afraid and in agony? Can you imagine their parents overtaken by remorse, wishing with all their might they could go back in time and not go to that one family dinner to spare their babies from this suffering? Are you able to picture the impotence of orphans who no longer have a father or mother, ripped away from them not by war, not famine, but by an entirely preventable disease?

My heart is racing as I write this, partly because I am ravaged by crashing waves of different emotions, and partly because my parasympathetic nervous system is broken as a consequence of the Covid-19 infection that has changed my life forever. But my case is easy. Millions of people in the prime of their lives are now invalids, gasping for air, their once sharp minds in crumbles, their once strong hearts now acting like a damaged gearbox. They were healthy; they enjoyed morning runs and organic shakes, avoided unpronounceable chemicals, and had no underlying conditions. And now here we are, not knowing for how long we will actually live, and for many, if it is even worth it.

So when I look at the devastation that this disease has brought upon us as a society, as a species, as families and as friends who care about each other, and I see people rejecting the one thing that can pull us out of this unsustainable reality, on the basis of either political bias, religious dogma, or profound disinformation, I have trouble not feeling immense disappointment and resentment.

I have spent countless hours doing my duty of sharing reputable and trustworthy information, hoping that maybe I will break someone’s bubble of misinformation. I like to think that people respect my intelligence and my incessant need to communicate and educate. My fingers have bled and my eyes have teared sharing in complete vulnerability the horror of my personal experience and my witnessing of the medical staff’s exhaustion from dealing with infected patients day and night. And my heart has been broken time after time when I find my efforts to be fruitless.

But I wish it stopped at that. If there is one thing that getting sick with Covid taught me it was to establish very clear boundaries and to protect myself and my family at all costs, because not doing so got me infected in the first place. Sadly, this has implied receiving attacks from family members who vehemently refuse the vaccine, and who have tried to coerce me with guilt and manipulation to attend gatherings in the name of family unity. One of these times was on the day that people remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to save humanity. The college brat in question was asking me to compromise my unvaccinated toddler’s safety by attending the family’s traditional Easter celebration, despite his recent return from spring break in the Mexican Caribbean. I was interrogated like a criminal. He could not understand our decision to only be around other vaccinated people, and implied that we were being dishonest and coming up with excuses not to spend time with them. Finally, when I suggested that everyone could at least mask up if they so badly wished for our presence, I was dismissed with a “Laughing Out Loud.” 

Vaccines made it possible to safely meet with my family back in Mexico after months of missing them. I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. It was while I enjoyed time with my parents, who held me and cared for me during the worst of my illness, that we received another attack. A brother-in-law, whose name I’d love to say but I won’t (now that would be public blasting,) scornfully called my country “the 3rd world” simply because we chose as a family not to partake in an event that involved close proximity with 10 unvaccinated men, fervent opponents of vaccination. The irony of the attack was that my country has welcomed him many times; he’s sipped on cocktails and dug his feet in the white sand, enjoyed dancing and going on romantic escapades with his beautiful wife, and its people have treated him with utmost hospitality. But I know firsthand that he’s mocked Mexican flight attendants for not having information readily available in English; he’s been the typical entitled American who thinks the world is his to walk on. He’s also publicly shamed me in one of my personal Facebook posts for not sharing with him the traumatizing difficulties of my pregnancy at the time I went through them, making a mother’s pain about him. He’s made distasteful political jokes in my presence; I’ve secretly revolted at the hideous Trump sign he kept in his backyard way past November 20th, and been troubled by the Nancy Pelosi chew toy he tosses at his pretty, expensive dogs. Hell of a guy.

So these are the kind of people that have topped my tolerance level for selfishness and arrogance. These people have hugged me, told me they loved me, “prayed” for me, given me generous gifts, and anything that makes them feel good about themselves, but when push comes to shove, have disrespected me in ways that no cuss word and no insult could ever do justice.

So yes, animosity is totally brewing, and not just in myself. Doctors are struggling to hide their fatigue and irritation from their patients, nurses cannot be paid enough to go work at hospitals. Entire medical communities are pleading that people listen and do their part as citizens and take a demonstrably millesimal risk to save lives. Lives. Millions of vaccinated fellow countrymen are now having to share the space with people who could not give a damn about anyone but themselves, arguing that it is their body and their choice not to take the vaccine while comparing it with the horrors of the Holocaust. Talk about privilege, entitlement and cynicism. They fail to see that this is no longer a matter of freedoms and opposing points of view. Your choice can kill or cripple someone; it really is as simple as that. So of course people are getting angry. We have tried and tried not to call anybody names, to have conversations and to use reason, to lead with example, kindness and empathy. Our tanks are running on empty now.

Not once have I been approached by any of these people in compassion for my struggles, nor with curiosity for different information despite how many times I have made the effort to share it. Yet when I finally lose my temper, hearts begin to bleed everywhere. Save the indignation and the tears for the millions of patients in the ICU’s, for the whole families that have been wiped out of existence, for the billions of people with no access to life-saving vaccines while here in the first world hundreds of thousands of precious vials have gone to waste. Save the prayers for the people wishing to end their agonizing lives with long Covid, for the gestating mothers with pulmonary embolisms and the babies with birth defects. For the boys who will grow up not knowing what it’s like to play ball with their dads, or the girls that will have to become mothers to their little siblings. Save the calls for unity and the nostalgia for the days when we were one happy society…because when asked to step up for the greater good of humankind, you have hidden behind poorly made memes, viral TikTok videos, hearsay from quacks and non-experts that feed your self-righteousness and prey on your ignorance. 

I, as a now vaccinated person who suffered from the disease before vaccines were available, who’s faced the fear of leaving an orphan behind, who’s lost loved ones, and who’s done her part as a citizen of this world, have no obligation to deal with anyone’s susceptibilities anymore. That is my choice.

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