A City, If You Can Keep It: To jab or not to jab — that is the question

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A Winters Express op-ed column

Leadership is about leading, not controlling. Toxic behavior from public officials has arrived in Winters by way of our County Supervisor Don Saylor. The supervisor recently shared a post made from his personal/official Facebook page in one of the local community groups on social media, attempting to convince unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. Mr. Saylor blamed unvaccinated people for his decision to enable the health officer to reinstate mask mandates. This is your fault, look what you made me do, why didn’t you just do what I told you to do? Cases are increasing! Still, with the cases, hospitalizations and deaths are the metrics that should be informing response. Cases are still meaningless unless you know their composition and disposition. If most people getting COVID are only getting sniffles and a low-grade fever, then what are we doing? As of the seventh, the county dashboard is reporting 756 current active cases, 10 of which are hospitalized with COVID (1.3 percent – on the low end of the expected range), and four deaths since May 20 (ages ranging from 45-74). Mr. Saylor doesn’t seem to understand how to speak to people who do not think as he does. Or, more succinctly, to people who aren’t the average Davis resident on this topic. Winters is a far more politically and ideologically diverse city than Davis. We are often more practical and rational too, less inclined to act out of emotion or accept an appeal to authority. Frankly, the sooner the census redistricting for supervisor districts is done and we (hopefully) no longer share a supervisor with Davis, the better. Offering money, free food, free beer, no mask, resumption of normal… none of it has convinced the unvaccinated 54 percent of Winters residents, left, right, and center, to get their “Fauci Ouchie” (yes your arm will be sore). So rather than attempting a dialog with them to find out what their hesitancy is, Mr. Saylor has decided to try shame and manipulation. If you want to change minds you need to treat people with respect, not condescension while insinuating they’re bad people neglecting some moral or social duty. Vaccination is a personal choice, no matter how much you try to frame it as a collective social responsibility. I have been vaccinated since March. I did not decide to get vaccinated out of fear of the virus, or wanting to protect family members, or some murky social responsibility to give myself a feeling of superiority. I did it to be able to travel to other countries. The decision tree is different for everyone, but it always boils down to a simple question – “Do the benefits outweigh the risks?” The benefits are easy to list: 95 percent effective protection (aka “relative risk reduction”) against COVID, nearly 100 percent protection against death and serious symptoms, and avoiding unwelcome harassment from government officials at home and when you travel. Some may say “getting out of this sooner” would be a benefit, but since we still have no definition of success indicating a return to normal from County or State leadership and the goalposts keep moving, I’d say there is no guarantee of that. The risks are less straightforward and highly individualized. There are documented side effects on the CDC website, but my brief reading of them leads me to believe they usually occur in people with specific health and demographic risk profiles and the overall occurrence is low. If this is a concern to you, I would suggest looking into it. Then there is also the risk of the unknown, which as I stated the other week, is a primary driver of fear and concern. I believe a lot of hesitancy is rooted in this. One Wintersite who is a healthcare worker has decided to delay vaccination because she is trying to get pregnant. Another has decided to wait for more data before he commits. Others got it to take off their masks, or for work. What the vaccine is not, is rushed. At least not in the way people imply. The delivery method predates the pandemic, it is simply being used to target a different receptor. It seems like the vaccines were rushed to market because they were, but not by taking safety risks or cobbling together a completely new technology. The drug companies took a financial risk by planning and investing in all the required phases of testing at the beginning. Pure market capitalism calculated risk, as it should be. As Charley mentioned last month, the companies knew President Trump had stripped away the bureaucratic red tape, and approval was nearly guaranteed so long as their trials proved it was safe and effective. So, a testing process that usually takes years instead took months. The second trial began immediately after the first and the data was analyzed as it came in, rather than between trials. It is amazing what is possible when government gets out of the way. I cannot and will not tell you if you should get the vaccine. That is a choice you must make for yourself. I will tell you that I got it, my wife got it, my 3-year-old daughter will not get it. With a mortality rate of zero percent for healthy children under 18, my wife and I see no reason to vaccinate her against COVID. I would also like to see more data on the long-term effects of the COVID vaccine on developing children. Being older than 65, having cancer, kidney disease, chronic lung disease, COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, dementia, diabetes, down syndrome, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension, HIV, weakened immune system, liver disease, being clinically overweight or obese, having sickle cell, history of stroke, or have received an organ or blood stem cell transplant, all place you at higher risk for severe COVID complications. If any of that applied to me, it would be a no-brainer that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. If, like me, none of that applies to you, your benefits from the vaccine are probably more practical than medicinal. I do not think the vaccine is a high risk to get for most people, but the decision is yours to make. And that is what leaders should be stressing in lieu of blame. Winters Healthcare has open appointments and stock of all three vaccines if you decide to get vaccinated. Its number is 530-795-4377.

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