Your Vaccine Choice Affects Everyone

I’m writing in response to Katharina Jones (Letters, 2/17), who believes that anti-vaxxers have valid reasons for their stance and do not deserve the hostility aimed at them. Although an editorial note mostly debunked her arguments, I would point out that she also doesn’t understand the grave threat posed by COVID to the unvaccinated. There is no equivalent threat from being vaccinated.

Only a handful of deaths attributable to the J&J vaccine have been documented. Compare that with the millions killed by COVID globally. Then there are the millions with long COVID, the emerging evidence of organ damage from mild cases and the new variants that threaten us all. 

My strong 83-year-old dad lived a clean, healthy life. From that, he drew the faulty conclusion that he was naturally immune and didn’t need to be vaccinated. His belief didn’t keep him from contracting COVID and dying by slow suffocation and eventual organ failure. Here’s a quote from him as he gasped for breath: “This is — unadulterated — hell.” My dad — my best friend — died before my eyes, because he underestimated how vicious and unrelenting COVID is. 

Anyone reading this who is not fully vaccinated and boosted, please, please get it done. Don’t risk a horrible death like my dad’s or infecting someone else who dies from it. Your choice affects everyone around you. COVID doesn’t care about your pride and small conceits. It is merciless. 

Leigh Rieder