Freedom’s just another word for intubation

I disapprove of your refusal to get the COVID vaccine, but I will defend to the death your right to refuse it. Specifically, your death. I will defend to your death your right to die.

But you have to meet me halfway. Because if you’re going to decline the vaccine, you can’t then be a sniveling crybaby who runs to the emergency room when your infection gets out of hand. No. Stand tall and proud — or, more realistically, lie shivering in a fetal position — and demonstrate the courage of your conviction by riding out the illness at home.

You’ll be OK. After all, I survived COVID before there was a vaccine, and you’re probably also in your thirties and in the best shape of your life. So you’re good.

But, if your luck does run out, have some dignity; don’t be posting TikToks or Snaps or Tweets imploring others not to make your same mistake. I’ve seen hundreds of those videos, and, frankly, the production quality is lacking. That said, if you feel irrepressibly compelled to film yourself gasping for air as you mournfully lament rejecting the vaccine, please at least do it over a sick techno beat.

Whatever you do, stay bedridden in your apartment, like the American hero you are.

To be clear, I’m not saying the unvaccinated shouldn’t go to the hospital for other afflictions. Like, if you don’t have COVID and you break your arm, by all means book a room at Albany Med. (Assuming, of course, that hospital beds are still available. You’ll want to beat the rush, since your unvaccinated compatriots are 29 times more likely than their vaccinated counterparts to be hospitalized with an avoidable COVID infection.)

What I’m saying is that, if you’re unvaccinated and you get COVID, stay home and shut up. Shutting up will help you avoid wasting the oxygen you’ll so desperately need while struggling to respire.

Let’s review:

Vaccinated? Go to the hospital.

Unvaccinated and COVID-negative? Go to the hospital.

Unvaccinated and infected by COVID? Snuggle up with some saltines and a ginger ale so you can binge-watch Netflix until you either beat the virus or die.

No matter what, don’t call 9-1-1. You’re better than that. Be a man and commit to your decision. You made your bed, now lie in it, as your night sweats drench the sheets and you lose the ability to smell the putrid stench of decay. Your blood oxygen level may plummet, but maintain your resolve; through the haze of fevered dreams, remember that you knew better than presidents Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Carter, all of whom implored you to get vaccinated.

Remember that you knew better than 96 percent of accredited medical doctors, to include your own. You knew better than the United States military, insurance companies, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and God.

That’s right, even God is urging you to get jabbed. He hath already smitten five radio broadcasters who previously called the virus a hoax, and now He’s dispatched the Pope to make His point. If that’s still too ambiguous for you, just promise me you’ll tune in when the pestilence and locusts show up.

Let’s pivot from Exodus and jump right into Numbers:

Of the nearly 182,000,000 people in the United States who are fully vaccinated, 3,040 have thereafter contracted COVID and died. That’s a death rate of .0017 percent, or about 1 out of every 60,000 infected people.

Meanwhile, the death rate among unvaccinated Americans who contract the virus is 1.6 percent, i.e., a 1 in 62 chance of dying from COVID. That might explain why unvaccinated people represent 99 percent of all those now dying from the virus. Or it could just be a coincidence.

Look, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to get the vaccine. Because you might never get COVID. And if you do get it, you might not get sick. And if you do get sick, it might not be that bad. And if it is that bad, you might not die. And if you do die, well, dying a preventable and senseless death is your right as an American — something my aging father reminds me each spring when he scales a three-story ladder to clean the gutters. Take that, Soviets.

Besides, if being unvaccinated means your principal threat is to other unvaccinated people, then you’re somewhat of an inadvertent hero, like the suicide bomber who blows up his fellow terrorists when the vest accidentally detonates too early.

Hold on; I can feel you pulling away. To spare my readers the burden of authoring yet another letter to the editor complaining that my columns are too confusing, I’ll just come out and say it:

No, I do not believe unvaccinated Americans are biological terrorists. They may be misinformed, self-deluded, walking petri dishes of mutating microscopic death, but they probably can’t be deemed biological terrorists. You can quote me on that.

Indeed, when it comes to our national discourse, we need to lower the temperature, to be less inflammatory, to take a deep breath, and to stop using clichés better suited for describing COVID symptoms such as high fevers, lung irritation, and labored respiration. Yet that doesn’t mean I can’t still express my irritation about your unscientific stubbornness.

Because gallivanting about unvaccinated is like skydiving without a reserve parachute. Sure, you might not need it, but if your main chute fails and you’ve deliberately chosen not to jump with that extra canopy, must I be upset when gravity does its job? Or can I be annoyed when your mangled carcass splatters all over my new patio?

In a recent interview, 19th-Century fictitious English businessman Ebenezer Scrooge expressed his loathsome distaste for anti-vaxxers. “If they would rather die,” he said, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

His words were harsh; I, for one, don’t agree with them. Yet he has a point. Because as long as there exists a critical mass of the unvaccinated, COVID-19 will continue mutating into deadly new viral strains that further justify the preposterous requirement that we all wear masks.

And that’s why, intellectually, Mr. Scrooge can’t be faulted for hoping people either get vaccinated or expeditiously succumb to their infections, since those are the only two means by which we’ll finally ditch these horrendous face-coverings.

It should be noted that Mr. Scrooge really hates wearing a mask. No, like, he despises it. Like, he can’t breathe when he wears it, and it’s really hot and itchy, and it muffles him when he talks and he can’t hear what people are saying and he always forgets his mask in my car and he thinks the whole thing is stupid and he fantasizes about violence every time the flight attendant reminds him that his nose has to be covered. (It’s Ebenezer Scrooge, guys; you know him as well as I do.)

Again, I’m not telling you to get the vaccine; I acknowledge that you’ve yet to finish “doing your own research” on YouTube, Craigslist, and the Alex Jones podcast. Moreover, just because your cell phone already tracks your every move doesn’t mean that lizard people aren’t trying to inject microchips into your bloodstream. And I’ll admit it: “lizard people” is an area wherein my own research is lacking.

But just do me a solid and, if you contract COVID after refusing to get vaccinated, stay out of the hospital. Because on Sept. 27, when New York’s mandate that all healthcare workers be vaccinated goes into effect and thousands of unvaccinated nurses lose their jobs, the demands on the 81 percent of state hospital workers who actually are doing their part to end the pandemic will be enormous.

Nurses are already being forced to work 24-hour shifts across New York at substantial personal risk. And it’ll be hard to thank them for their service when a ventilator tube is pummeling its way down your trachea. So stay home, where at least you won’t have to wear a mask.

Jesse Sommer is a lifelong resident of Albany County.
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