Of Lights and Tunnels

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Google “vaccine light end of tunnel” and you’ll discover a long and growing list of stories wherein scientists, physicians, and political leaders are proclaiming the new anti-covid-19 vaccines as providing the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  Some are saying the tunnel is still very long.  But nobody is questioning what the light may portend.  Perhaps we should.

To date, those who talk about tunnels and lights mean that the new vaccines are providing hope that our long covid-19 nightmare may be nearing its end.  The light may be that of a new day in which we can fling aside our masks and our social distance routines, and go visit our friends and loved ones, whether they be in nursing homes, or across country, or elsewhere in seclusion, and also go about the business of living and working and getting our economy going full blast again.

Or maybe not.

Amid stories of new vaccines and the hope they offer are stories of widespread resistance to vaccination, driven by skeptics who question not just the efficacy of the new vaccines, but the motives of those promoting them as well.  For example:

  • Although the claim that vaccines cause autism has long been proven false, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is working with Louis Farrakan of the Nation of Islam to convince Blacks not to take a vaccine for fear of spreading autism among Black children.  This claim, it must be admitted, has some resonance among those who remember the infamous Tuskegee Project medical experiments in which researchers withheld treatment from Black sufferers from syphilis so that they could observe the effects of the disease.
  • Other leftists maintain that the production and distribution of vaccines is simply to make more profit for Big Pharma.
  • Many on the right see vaccinations as a plot fostered by Bill Gates and/or George Soros to acquire the power to control our minds.
  • And many simply say that to show they control their own bodies, they won’t take a vaccine and it’s the business of nobody else anyway.

These views may be baffling to those of us who know how effective vaccines were in the elimination of smallpox and polio.  And they’re dangerous as well.  If not enough people take a vaccine, society will fail to develop the herd immunity which might otherwise shield us from this plague.  The virus will continue to ravage both those who won’t take the vaccine, and those who can’t.  And since the current vaccines are reported to be 90% to 95% effective, the failure of herd immunity to develop means that even a small but significant percentage of those who take the vaccine will still be at risk.

Of course, there are some grounds for caution.  To date no significant medical problems have been reported among the medically fit who’ve taken the vaccines, but we must continue to be on watch for problems that may arise, and adjust policies accordingly.  And we should not require the vaccination of those who may, because of various medical conditions, be more harmed than helped by taking it.

Nonetheless, everyone who’s medically sound should follow the examples of Mike Pence, Joe Biden, and especially our local health care workers and take the vaccine.  The fact that doctors and other health care workers we know are taking one of the vaccines is a sure sign that they vaccination to be safe and effective.  And if they think so, even those of us (myself included) who are innocent of medical training should feel safe in following their lead.  Doing so offers the best guarantee of defeating the virus.  Then the light at the end of the tunnel will more likely be that of a day worth waiting for.  Otherwise, if the pandemic continues, the light will simply be that of an oncoming train bringing more sickness, misery, and death.  Surely 2020 has provided enough of all that so far.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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