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Having patiently circled its prey for several weeks, the delta variant has pounced. A doctor, echoing many in his profession, said that, nowadays at his hospital, it is only the unvaccinated who seek treatment for COVID-19.

Hospitalization cases are up at least 30% in states where vaccine resistance is greatest. These tend to be red states, like Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and Utah.

This dark reality shouldn’t surprise us, given that vaccine refusal has become entwined with politics and the right-wing philosophy of rejection of research, numbers and data. That’s true, whether it is findings regarding climate change, the presidential election vote count, Russian hacking or vaccine effectiveness. If it involves the heartbreak of science, sadly, they’re against it.

The hardened politics of anti-vaccination have become so obscene that anti-vaxxers are getting sick and dying, many for the temporary thrill of “owning the libs.” Instead of taking that risk, I humbly beg that you get the free and readily available vaccination, so that we do not return to the way things were a year ago.

But, if instead, you really like wearing the mask, don’t get vaxxed. If you prefer having the kids at home rather than in school, don’t get vaxxed. If liberty means doing without a real vacation, skip the shot. If waiting outside before being allowed to enter your grocery store, and if shuttered restaurants, locked up bars and vacant theaters fit your definition of freedom, don’t get vaxxed.

If you like the cancellation of football, sack the vax. If an economic shutdown smells like liberty, if wondering whether your last roll of toilet paper will hold out until store shelves are restocked, if those were the good times, don’t get vaxxed.

If COVID-19 deaths, in May alone, of 18,000 unvaccinated people vis-à-vis a mere 150 vaccinated folks, leaves you yet unconvinced that vaccines work, don’t get vaxxed. If you remain suspicious that the vaccine contains a chip that allows Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to monitor your thoughts, reject the jab.

If you have concluded that life on a ventilator sounds like a cool growth experience, don’t get vaxxed. If you like disinfecting your mail, staying home forever, buying hand sanitizer by the gross and ordering nothing but sweatpants from Amazon, don’t get vaxxed.

If you abhor socializing with pals and if hugs from your grandkids are a drag, don’t get vaxxed. If you think the pope is a poop for urging vaccinations, dodge the dose. If you think that a shot of disinfectant is a better treatment than those offered by Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, then don’t get vaxxed.

If you enjoy reading the words “died of COVID” in the obits, skip the shot. If you are immune to the saddening thought of older Americans dying a little more every day until they breathe their last without the comfort of family around them, if that is “freedom,” then don’t get vaxxed.

You’ll have plenty of time to take up a hobby. I suggest ballroom dancing, because, if you dance fast enough, you might out-dance the Grim Reaper. But please consider that, although Mr. Death is always a gentleman, he is not without his faults. And when he taps a person on the shoulder and asks to cut in, he never ever takes no for an answer.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at

wyatt@marshall.edu.

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