I am 78 years old. I never knew my beautiful grandmother, Loretta. She died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. That epidemic inspired people to find ways to prevent such devastation. They came up with vaccines.
As a child, my siblings, my friends and I all came down with measles, mumps and chicken pox. We were concerned with our own suffering and did not see the fear in the eyes of our parents. They knew the possible long term and sometimes deadly effects of those diseases. The only vaccination available was for smallpox. I had a scar on my arm for years from that.
Some liquid was put on my skin and a needle was used to scratch the skin so some of the liquid was absorbed. I was old enough in the late 1940s to be aware of pictures in the newspapers of children in iron lungs, unable to breathe for themselves due to paralysis from polio. I was afraid. We were all afraid.
Then two vaccines were developed to prevent the disease. I received the first - a shot - and there was one less monster under my bed.
Today, these diseases are virtually non-existent, or would be if not for a growing "anti-vaxxer" movement. Conspiracy theorists have been waging a campaign against vaccines which has resulted in a resurgence of measles, the most deadly of the common childhood trio.
As a preteen/teenager, Asian Flu (it was a common name at the time, not a political ploy) was my nemesis. I got it every year, sometimes twice. And was sick for two weeks each time. Sometimes my fever was so high I was delirious. I continued to suffer from influenza every year until a vaccine became widely available. I never fail to get a flu vaccine annually.
When two vaccines were approved for emergency use to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, I started a push to be vaccinated. My age and chronic medical issues left me vulnerable to the virus, and my depleted condition made loss of life a distinct possibility. Thanks to a very good program in New Mexico for allowing residents to register to be vaccinated, and which was efficient in identifying those at high risk, I became fully vaccinated in January of 2021. I am grateful every day for that privilege.
Given my history with vaccines and the terrible suffering I was able to escape, I am mystified by many Americans' outright refusal to be vaccinated for a more deadly killer than I had ever faced.
COVID-19 is much more devastating and deadly than any disease that haunted my younger years. And it is not a myth. News videos of overflowing
hospitals worldwide have not been faked. Statistics of lives lost or permanently damaged did not originate in some cabal's demented propaganda machine.
This virus doesn't care how much money you have; how healthy you are; how old you are; what religion you practice; or what your political views are. All it sees is a body wide open. All it needs is a home for one microscopic member of its uncountable numbers. And it will take control of you and disperse its members to everyone around you, no matter whether they are strangers or beloved family members.
It will continue this cycle until enough people are vaccinated against it to reduce its "body hopping" and bring it under control. And that won't happen if you and your friends continue to ignore history and think that thumbing your nose at this mindless killer will do anything, but allow it to eventually eradicate us all.
Adele E. Zimmermann lives in Embudo