Op-Ed: Refuse A COVID-19 Vaccine? You're Canceled

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
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Recently, I discovered through a mom friend that as a mother to a special needs child (two, actually), my state deemed me in our 1-A group for a COVID-19 vaccine. I cried. A COVID-19 vaccine would let me take our kids places within our comfort levels if they were masked, wearing a buff, and socially distanced. We could leave the house. We could see some friends outside; we could begin leading a semi-normal life. Since both my husband and I have preexisting conditions, we’ve stayed in social isolation since March 13th, 2020. An adult vaccinated against COVID-19 would change our kids’ lives.

I began messaging every mom I knew with a special needs kid. Everyone. Guess what? You’re 1-A! I said to them. I sent them links and screenshots to our state’s information and sign up. Most moms, like me, nearly cried. But one mom asked, “What’s 1-A?”

My Friends Were Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine

You’re 1-A,” I said. “That means you’re first in line for a vaccine!”

“Oh, we’re not interested in that,” she replied with a laugh emoji. “Thanks for thinking of us!”

My heart hit my throat. This woman, who I liked a lot, who I’d always seen as sane and smart, was turning down a COVID-19 vaccine. Like, the vaccine that will save thousands of lives. The vaccine that will protect the old and the sick. It will substantially decrease deaths in minority communities. It’s already saving our vulnerable seniors. It will stop kids from contracting MIS-C, a scary inflammatory syndrome that can possibly affect their brains over the long term.

Our government, Pfizer, and Moderna have transparently published all of their safety information, all of which was easily found on Google.

But this woman was refusing to be vaccinated.

Then another mom said no. This mom hurt. This mom, I love her to pieces. She’s smart. She’s kind. I don’t see her often, but I love her posts on Facebook, and she’s every kind of mom I aspire to be. She’s brave and tolerant and generally kickass. She’s been through some hard stuff, and she’s come through it gracefully and bravely.

She said no to the vaccine, too.

I nearly cried.

I Cried Because They’re Canceled.


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Yeah, if those two are reading this essay, they know who they are. Canceling people in public is uncool, but I’m doing it anyway. And I’m doing it as a warning. If you’re my friend, and you refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, you’re canceled. You are no longer my friend. We can nod at each other. We can have superficial conversations; we can manage a smile or two. But don’t mistake it. We are not friends. Our children will not have playdates. I will not reach out to you.

Sorry. You might as well go click unfriend now, before I do it. Then bitch about what a bitch I am.

I dealt with moms I liked flouting quarantine. I dealt with watching them have pool parties when our state had some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the country; I dealt with homeschooling co-ops and football teams and public posts asking for playdates as my kids cried — literally cried — that they couldn’t see anyone. I cried when my 11-year-old dropped one of his best friends, of his own accord, because she kept pestering him for a playdate, and he himself thought she wasn’t taking the virus seriously enough.

There is one exception: If you have a legit medical reason you can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, you are someone I am getting vaxxed to protect. But that’s probably exactly none of you. Doubts about COVID-19 vaccine safety are not a legitimate reason. I’ve written about flu vaccine myths and vaccine safety, the truth behind vaccine injury and common vaccine myths. I’ve linked to clinical trials and COVID-19 vaccine transparency above. Go read it.

Moreover, according to the CDC, serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine have occurred in 11.1 patients per one million.

Why I Cancel Friends Who Refuse The COVID-19 Vaccine

When people refuse to get vaccinated, they refuse to save lives. Not theoretical lives, but real, actual, human lives.

These are, of course, white women. When they say no to a vaccination, they effectively say that Black lives don’t matter, since Blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die of it than a white person, regardless of income, according to the CDC. Other BIPOC have even worse rates of hospitalization: 4 times the rate of whites — and death rates similar to Blacks. Looks real privileged to say no to a COVID-19 vaccine, doesn’t it?

If more people get vaccinated, we slow the pandemic. Every shot saves lives. Especially if you’re sending your kids to school, or you’re not social distancing in to begin with. When you refuse a vaccine, you put everyone at risk, especially people with pre-existing conditions. My husband and I both have pre-existing conditions. When you refuse a vaccine, you tell me that we are both expendable.

I have a Facebook friend whose son just went through MIS-C. I watched his ups and downs in horror only a mother knows: There but for the grace of God go I. I cried for her. I checked her feed regularly. When you refuse a vaccine, you tell me you don’t care about her suffering, or her son’s suffering. I seethe with rage at that, and I only watched her story unfold on Facebook.

If you refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re doing so based on ignorance and misinformation. You’re playing out your privilege on the backs of the vulnerable. You’re prolonging a pandemic. And you can go straight to hell.

I’ve spent ten months holed up in my house. COVID-19 took my last fuck. Looks like it’ll also take some friends.

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