‘The unvaccinated have a great moral dilemma,’ I said to Camp, as our first pints arrived and we were comfortably seated in our favorite chairs.
‘We cannot disregard the simple fact that the unvaccinated are now drawing heavily on the good will of their fellow human beings. At the same time, they themselves do not show the solidarity to get vaccinated and thus avoid hospitalization. In many intensive care units, 90 percent of Covid patients are unvaccinated. They consume enormous resources there. Not just beds, medicines or machines – the real problem is their ‘consumption’ of human attention and care.
Some unvaccinated people promise that they will refrain from intensive care in an emergency but the reality is different. When they’re gasping for air, with the family watching helplessly, they do not go to their lonely death voluntarily and on principle.
‘Yes, it’s a big moral dilemma of our times,’ Camp agreed. “Everyone who is unvaccinated should consider the extreme situation of doctors, nurses and patients in hospitals and ask themselves the question: ‘How can I be responsible for my selfish behavior and put the burden of care on the system?’
‘Good luck with that,’ I said. ‘The medical profession states that unvaccinated people must not be disadvantaged, even if they are responsible for their own situation. They have the freedom to decide against vaccination, therefore their behavior cannot be defamed or criminalized. But I’m not a doctor nor an icu-nurse and I’m pissed off at their irresponsible selfishness.’
‘The situation in hospitals confronts unvaccinated people with a question of conscience that they can no longer avoid. ‘Can I be responsible for burdening society in this way and will my behavior impact those around me in a negative way, as in infecting or even killing them.’ Camp said, taking a long swallow from his beer.
‘The health care workers do not have infinite strength. The sick unvaccinated not only consume the time and energy of the nurses and the medical professionals for themselves but they automatically take these resources away from other patients. Often those are the seriously ill, who for other reasons than the pandemic lie in the intensive care beds. Intensive care nurses describe how they can hardly look after these since Covid patients require so much of their attention and resources.’
Last July, Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Alabama pointed out that ‘Unvaccinated people are basically the cannon fodder of the virus. The virus needs people to infect in order to replicate and the more people it has that are vulnerable or susceptible to infection, the more likely it will mutate.’ He was talking about the holdouts and the unvaccinated.’
‘To me it is clear that the only real responsible choice for the unvaccinated is to be part of the solution and get the jab or be part of the problem and should therefore be treated as such. All other options are off the table,’ Camp said with a sweep of his hand that almost knocked over my beer.’
‘What do you think of the recent travel restrictions the Canadians put in place?’
‘Kneejerk politics, punitive and ineffective, putting more pressure on an already very tenuous situation. Every traveller that arrives in Canada already is fully vaccinated and has a PCR test within 72 hours. They should receive a quick test or a home-test kit, on arrival. I’m ok with that. The federal government handed out 90 million of these test kits to the provinces. Where are they? Also, singling out countries and put them on a no fly list and forcing travellers into substandard quarantine hotels is not stopping the spread of a new variant. Instead, we should concentrate on vaccinating the 20 percent of unvaccinated who are the ones spreading the virus.’
‘You two need to change the subject,’ Vicky said when she brought us two fresh brews. I don’t even watch the news anymore. It’s depressing waking up every morning to more bad news. I need some sunshine and good news in my life.’
‘You are our ray of sunshine Vicky,’ Camp said, ‘and the good news are that the next year will be better than the last two years.’
‘You’re just a barrel of laughs,’ she said, plunking down two fresh pints.
Why does Camp think the next year will be better? It seems endless. Relentless Covid.
The US is floundering in constant violence, on the verge of civil war. Young people have little hope.
I don’t think I could take being a nurse now in the hospital. Elizabeth must feel that way. “What medical people carry” is too big to imagine.
I always try to end on a positive or humorous note, which is becoming increasingly challenging. As you point out, the US is in an existential crises with reality teetering on the brink of anarchy, and it could be so much better. We have the tools, the science, the knowhow and people but the radicalization of republicans and cult like coalition of misfits and reality deniers, are stopping any kind of progress, to their own detriment I might add, which always puzzles me. Why would they make such bad decisions regarding their own and their communities health and why do they believe in blatant lies and mis-information? How is that helping to make the world a better place for the future generations?
Elizabeth has been hauled out of retirement to help immunize and she works one or two days a week in the local vaccination clinic. They are mostly staffed by retired nurses and doctors. Although she gets paid she considers it a service to the community and we’re about 80 percent immunized here in BC.