This is an interesting point of view from his daily business column in this morning’s Express-News.
Tomlinson: Masks off and let the unvaccinated pay the consequences for COVID stubbornness
Chris Tomlinson, Staff writer
Updated: June 30, 2021 7:58 a.m.
The COVID-19 pandemic is over for me, at least until a vaccine-defeating virus emerges.
I am not the only one reaching this conclusion. Restaurants are filling up. Two recent flights I took were full. Shopping malls no longer worry about social distancing. Bar stools have bottoms in them.
I keep a mask in my back pocket just in case, but my patience is running thin. I’m vaccinated, and anyone over the age of 12 can easily obtain one at this point. There are few good excuses for not getting the shot.
The time has come for vaccine refusers to take personal responsibility for their hesitancy. Society must stop coddling them by ordering everyone else to take burdensome precautions.
Airline flights provide a useful scenario. As a vaccinated person, I have little chance of contracting COVID-19 on the plane. The odds are so low, they should not warrant a mask requirement. I spent a year advocating masks, but it’s time to move on.
The people who are taking a risk are the unvaccinated. Since they are inconveniencing the rest of us, we have the right to ask why they are not taking this essential health precaution.
Only 21 of 1.8 million people vaccinated in the U.S. experienced an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 70 percent of those reactions took place within 15 minutes of receiving the shot, which is why they make you loiter around afterward.
The only people who have a valid medical excuse for avoiding the vaccine are those with allergies to the vaccine’s ingredients or a history of allergic reactions to vaccines. Those people make up less than 1 percent of the population, and while they must take precautions, the authorities should allow the rest of us to resume our regular lives.
Public health officials, though, are worried about the 30 percent of American adults who have not received their first dose. They are why public health officials want to keep mask requirements in place. In other words, the vaccine-hesitant are holding the rest of us back.
If there was ever a time to force people to take some personal responsibility, this is it. Since half of Texas Republicans told Quinnipiac University pollsters they do not intend to get vaccinated, they should embrace this high-stakes chance to live their values.
Let’s strike a balance between personal liberty and government regulation. I dare you.
If the unvaccinated want to wander around without a mask and expose themselves to the virus, then let them. Infection, after all, is one path to immunity — if it doesn’t kill you. If you’re unlucky and suffer a permanent disability, well, you were warned.
Here’s the kicker, though. Anti-vaxxers should have to pay their COVID-related health expenses. Insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid should not have to pay for someone whose feckless behavior leads them to fall ill.
I took the time to get vaccinated. Why should my insurance premiums or tax dollars go to pay the COVID-19 bills of someone who chose not to get the jab? Yes, they have the liberty to skip the shot, but they should take financial responsibility.
We also have the right to expect front-line workers to live up to their responsibilities.
Hospitals and clinics exist to treat sick people, especially those with COVID-19. Requiring vaccinations makes perfect sense, if for no other reason, because health care companies need to keep their health care expenses down, too.
Houston Methodist Hospital did the right thing in getting rid of 150 so-called health workers who would not get vaccinated. Some of them could be asymptomatic carriers and could have distributed the virus to patients unable to get inoculated. More health institutions should follow suit.
Airlines should require flight crews to get vaccinated to protect customers and reduce their health care costs. If someone cares so little for the public they serve, they should choose another career. The same applies to anyone who lays hands on another to make a living.
Vaccine deniers talk a good game about their freedom, but sadly society does not do enough to hold them responsible for their decisions.
This failure has profound economic costs and creates a free-rider problem. It’s easy to reject a vaccine if you don’t have to pay the financial costs of your illness. This is the persistent problem with libertarian thinking, adherents tend to take all the liberties and accept none of the consequences.
I’m tired of wearing a mask, participating in public health theater and signaling virtue. We need to resume business as usual and let the chips fall where they belong. At least while the vaccines work.