You Can’t Have Rights Without Responsibilities

You Can’t Have Rights Without Responsibilities

The U.S. is currently facing another surge in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and even deaths. Sadly, this is occurring while the country is awash in vaccines that have shown remarkable efficacy. I’m concerned that the proliferation of this virus could have a highly deleterious effect on our economy and our investment portfolios, not to mention our health. Every one of us has a vested interest in getting COVID under control if not entirely eliminated.

Why aren’t more people getting vaccinated? I’m hearing two concerns. One is hesitancy around its safety. Over one billion people worldwide have already been vaccinated with only a smattering of adverse reactions experienced. The alternative is a high likelihood of contracting a potentially severe illness with the further possibility of death or many months of debilitating and recurring symptoms. I can’t understand why that isn’t sufficient enough to convince anybody that the vaccines are the safest choice, unless those expressing safety concerns are actually using those as an excuse for some ulterior motive.

The bigger and most strident arguments against vaccinations appear to be based on the assertion that each of us has the right to decide what to do with our own bodies. (Ironically many of those making this assertion deny the same right to women when it comes to abortions. But I digress…). What these citizens are ignoring are their responsibilities to their community and to our country.

Yes, you have the right not to get vaccinated. You also have the responsibility to get vaccinated if you want to participate in community activities such as restaurants, stores, and sports events. Because in a community setting you are responsible for the health of others. When enough people skip vaccinations, the virus has more hosts through which to replicate itself. This is not a conspiracy theory. Just look around. In those areas with low vaccination rates COVID is spreading much faster than elsewhere.

Even more of a threat is viral mutation. The original COVID virus was nowhere near as transmissible as the delta variant. The longer we collectively allow the virus to continue to spread, the more likely a mutation will occur with more deadly characteristics. What if a new variant emerges that is vaccine-resistant? That could put us right back to where we were in March of 2020. We already know the impact that would have on our lives.

I am troubled by the lack of leadership on this topic by political leaders in low-vaccination states. The Governor of Tennessee said in July “We want to encourage Tennesseans to talk to … the trusted voices in their life, in order for them to make a personal decision about whether or not to pursue getting the vaccine.” That’s wrong. They (and we) have a collective responsibility to fight the disease. How would unvaccinated Tennesseans react if their overworked health care providers utilized their own personal rights to refuse to help them if they contract COVID?

There should be no question that in a pandemic we are all in it together. It is our group behavior that will determine the outcome of this disease. The Governor of Alabama (a Republican) put it quite succinctly: “it’s these [unvaccinated] folks who are letting us down.” If you are unvaccinated I urge you to heed her plea.

One Response

  1. Thanks for this essay, even though divergent from purely financial matters.

    I read that there are three types of anti-vaxxers, not just the two you mentioned, which are: apathetic (don’t care enough and/or too hard to find the time to risk the side-effects), misinformed (innumerate, exaggerating some risks while ignoring others, etc; confirmation bias matters a lot too), and worst of all, tribal/identity. The last group needs a “cover story” to allow them to reverse course and act out of character.

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