True confession: I’m a vaxxer. Flu, pneumonia, Covid-19: I get my shots. As a 50-year-old, I’m due for a shingles vaccine. I am planning that one this summer. Also, as someone born in 1970, I didn’t have to have the smallpox vaccine. I am quite pleased to be born in a country where smallpox was considered eradicated five decades ago—due to vaccination.
I also am writing this week as someone who received a number of involuntary shots. As a military veteran who served overseas, I got some doozies. I also served as the spokesman for one of the Navy’s largest teaching hospitals and as the Department of the Navy’s spokesman for healthcare issues from 1994 to 1999.
During that time, the military was looking at the “cocktail” of vaccines and preventative medications given to troops the Gulf War as a possible cause of Gulf War Syndrome. The military was also administering anthrax vaccine to troops deploying to the Persian Gulf, based on intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weaponized anthrax. A conspiracy theory group started posting on the brand-new world wide web in 1998 that the FDA-approved anthrax vaccine wasn’t safe, and the rumor spread that it wasn’t safe to give to our servicemen and women. Sound familiar?
To prepare statements on these issues, I had to talk to experts, who deal in studies and facts. Here’s my layman’s summary. Vaccines are better than the disease. Regarding the “cocktail,” the studies at the time did not show a single cause—preventative medications, exposure to oil fires, any of it. What I do know is that medicine is often a balance, getting the right medications in the right amounts to keep the person in the best health. This is what seeking health care is about, and it’s what will happen if you go to the ER with Covid-19.
(There still isn’t great conclusive evidence about Gulf War Syndrome, but there are very real symptoms. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does provide disability benefits and you can get help finding out more from the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services at nmdvs.org)
This week, Covid-19 cases are up 25% in New Mexico. The Delta variant is both more infectious and more deadly, and while 70% of the state is vaccinated, this quick uptick in cases bears out the virulence of this strain. It’s much worse in places like Arkansas and Alabama where vaccine rates are far lower, and hospitals are overwhelmed, again.
The surge in new cases is not showing “breakthrough” infections; that is, infections in the vaccinated. The Delta variant is striking the unvaccinated, sickening them quickly, and even killing them.
We don’t know enough about the origin of the virus. The United States must continue deep scientific and intelligence probes into the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese communist regime to gain information on all possible leads. However, that will not change the virus’ presence in our country, state, and county; our need for final FDA approval of multiple vaccines; and individuals’ needs to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Virus protocols and vaccine acceptance in this pandemic are highly politicized. America’s enemies are also spreading additional disinformation to disrupt and divide us. Many people resent any sort of protocol as a limitation on personal freedom. All of us are tired of restrictions, and the entire economy has suffered. I can tell you this: None of this will improve if this new, more infectious variant takes hold.
The White House in the second half of 2020 gave us fascinating evidence that we should all consider. First, there was minimal social distancing and virus protocol for the President’s inner circle. The following individuals contracted the virus over 10 weeks beginning September 26, even with constant rapid testing and the most elite 24/7 onsite medical team: Hope Hicks, President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Bill Stepien, Melania Trump, Chris Christie, Nicholas Luna, Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Miller, Marty Obst, Marc Short, Mark Meadows, Brian Jack, David Bossie, Ben Carson, Corey Lewandowski, Richard Waters, Donald Trump Jr., Andrew Guiliani, Boris Epshteyn, Rudy Guiliani, Jenna Ellis, and 13 other unnamed individuals, according to The New York Times.
President Trump was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center on October 2 and received state-of-the-art care that none of us will ever be able to receive. He also received the Covid-19 vaccine in January.
I make the case for vaccination on the following levels:
• As a patriot, I don’t want to let the Chinese communist regime further disrupt our nation. More vaccination equals faster national recovery and victory.
• As a capitalist, we cannot afford another lockdown, and don’t think it won’t happen here. If our numbers in New Mexico continue this trend, we’re back in January all over again, and I don’t know if our business community can ever come back from that.
• As a daughter, wife and caregiver, I cannot get sick or infect others. If I bring the Delta variant home, there’s a chance I will kill my vaccinated parent who is fighting a bone infection. You put your life and those of your loved ones at risk every day you go unvaccinated.
Whether for life, vocation, or nation, vaccination is the right thing to do. You can set up a shot now by calling 1-855-600-3453 or visiting vaccinenm.org.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appears regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. She lives amicably with her Democratic husband and Republican mother north of I-40 where they run two head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.