Your Right To Breathe Out COVID Ends Where My Nose Begins

“It’s an individual choice,” she said.

She’d just finished spouting a bunch of misinformation (possibly originally spawned by the comically misnamed “The National Vaccine Information Center” [1]) about the Moderna vaccination as justification why she and another hospital worker [2] were not getting the vaccination.

It was personally irritating; literally at the same time my parents were having to drive an hour outside of town to be able to find a place for them (both high-risk for multiple reasons) to be able to get their own injections. [3]

It was also irritating because her statement was not just wrong – it was criminally wrong.

It is not an individual choice.

It plays off the selfish libertarian falsehood that each person’s choices have no effect on anyone else. It pretends that there are no externalities for decisions that impact the world around them.

Sure, if you stay inside your home and never interact with others, it does not matter if you don’t wear your mask or don’t get the vaccination when it’s available to you.

She – and the other woman there – are hospital workers. They, like myself, interact with dozens (or more) people every day. People who are – more likely than not – at high risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 should they contract it.

People who – like my parents, and unlike all the employees at my hospital – have not had the opportunity yet to get the vaccine.

This isn’t a hypothetical risk; I’m personally aware of a health care worker who was caring for patients literally hours before getting a positive COVID-19 test result.

There is an old adage: Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

But in these days, we must make it clear:

Your right to breathe out COVID ends where another’s nose begins.

(Recommended: This episode of Sawbones where they talk about vaccine hesitancy.)

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

[1] Wikipedia: While NVIC describes itself as the “oldest and largest consumer led organization advocating for the institution of vaccine safety and informed consent protections”, it promotes false and misleading information including the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism, and its campaigns portray vaccination as risky, encouraging people to consider “alternatives.” Obviously I’m not linking directly to that bunch of douchecanoes.

[2] Not in my department, thankfully.

[3] They live in the suburbs of a large urban area, so, yeah, that’s as bad as it sounds.