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Opinion: If you’re choosing not to be vaccinated, you’re part of the problem

A dose of vaccine is drawn from a vial.
A COVID-19 vaccine dose is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Long Beach on July 6.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, July 17, 2021. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Is it happening again? Are we careening toward yet another round of restrictions — if not a lockdown or, God forbid, a second fall of at-home schooling — amid exponentially rising COVID-19 cases? I’d say probably not, even though compulsory indoor masking for everyone resumes today in Los Angeles County, and even though the dominant Delta variant spreads more easily than its predecessors. No, this surge is different — still tragic, especially for those who cannot yet get vaccinated, but mostly just disappointing and, well, stupid.

As The Times Editorial Board lamented, the explosive growth in COVID-19 cases can be attributed almost entirely to adults who have delayed or declined vaccination, providing the coronavirus additional opportunities to mutate into variants capable of evading our vaccines. In the United States, this is now an epidemic we have effectively chosen to prolong, a sad fact made pathetically risible by a certain ex-president who swings between stoking anti-vaccine paranoia and demanding credit for Operation Warp Speed.

A lot of people worked, suffered or even died to get us where we are now — and yes, this is where things get personal. Last year, when the (first) summer surge was upon us, I volunteered to take part in the Pfizer-BioNTech study and have two mRNA doses injected into my arm at a time when the shots were truly experimental (and not “experimental” in the way anti-vaxxers throw around that term now). There was a feeling of urgency that prompted thousands of people to raise their hands and their sleeves for this trial. With vaccinations stalling and new variants taking hold, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that some of this urgency was wasted.

Then there’s my mother, a nurse at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. It wasn’t fun for her (and surely many of her colleagues) to be deprived of all close family contact precisely when she was working through the most traumatic period of her career. Then, pre-vaccination, much of the illness and death she saw was either unavoidable or because people refused to mask up or cancel their holiday plans; now, the threat of another wave of exhaustion and misery feels like abuse.

I can only imagine how people who have lost friends, siblings, parents or children to COVID-19 must feel now. Let’s hope enough of the unvaccinated can also imagine those feelings and join the ranks of the protected. If you live in Los Angeles County, here is where you can find a place to get vaccinated.

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Don’t make the immunocompromised wait for COVID-19 booster shots. It’s true that the focus of vaccination efforts should be on getting shots into the arms of completely unprotected Americans, but the reluctance of the federal government to recommend a third dose of vaccine for people who got their shots many months ago ignores growing evidence that immunity may be waning in a certain segment of the population. “As the Delta variant threatens to produce another wave of COVID-19 cases, we should not allow immunocompromised Americans to go unprotected when there is an easy solution: Allow a third shot now for those who need it,” write Jennifer Mnookin and Robert Mnookin. L.A. Times

Hey, we’re not supposed to have so many mosquitoes in L.A. One of the perks of living with “dry heat” was the dearth of “winged swordsmen” feasting on our blood; now, we join the sweltering denizens of less arid cities who have long suffered mosquito bites. Columnist Nicholas Goldberg weighs our options for keeping our bodies welt-free (and more importantly, West Nile- and Zika-free), including the use of pesticides. L.A. Times

There’s a disaster unfolding in Venice, and don’t call it a housing crisis. This is one of those pieces that forcibly reminds me that unsheltered residents suffer infinitely more than just about any housed Angeleno who complains about homelessness, but I’ll grant that what’s happening in Venice is nothing less than a disaster. Writes Venice Neighborhood Council member Soledad Ursúa: “Now that I am a homeowner here, I find myself living within a homeless encampment — replete with drugs, frequent stabbings, physical and sexual assaults, and cries from mentally ill individuals. Venice still has all the virtues that drew crowds. What’s missing is law and order.” L.A. Times

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The guy who helped create Stephen Miller is running for governor. Radio host Larry Elder mentored Miller back when the architect of Trump’s cruel immigration policies was a high school student in Santa Monica. Columnist Jean Guerrero looks at the career of a would-be governor who “believes his Blackness gives some listeners ‘confidence’ to hold and share similar views. He has repeatedly twisted crime statistics to portray Black people as more violent than whites — a theme for white supremacists. He blames Black communities’ struggles on an alleged lack of self-determination. (A David Duke talking point).” L.A. Times

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is trying to tap into people’s anger over homelessness, and he may be succeeding, even if his ideas are brutish and simpleminded, writes columnist Robin Abcarian: “You’d like to think our elected officials would enthusiastically work together on this most pressing problem, but as Villanueva amply demonstrated during Monday’s virtual town hall, his modus operandi is lobbing insults. ‘Right now,’ he said, ‘reality is butting up against the political establishment,’ which he accused of having ‘sold their souls to the devil.’” L.A. Times

Stay in touch.

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As always, you can share your feedback by emailing me at paul.thornton@latimes.com.


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