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Column: Protecting ourselves and loved ones requires science and vaccines
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Did you ever have the chickenpox? 

I was talking to a friend the other day and he remembered how they would bring kids together to get them exposed and eventually over the chickenpox. 

We did the same thing. 

I hope that’s not how we get rid of the coronavirus. 

I’m old enough to remember a few cases of polio. There was a boy who had one leg that was normal size and another that was small. 

I’m also old enough to remember when they brought the polio vaccine and put it on a sugar cube to administer it to us at school. 

Because of that vaccine, we have almost eliminated polio in the world. There are a few third world countries where it still exists, albeit in rather small numbers. 

I read comments on social media that people will not take the vaccine for coronavirus when it becomes available. They are worried about side effects. There are side effects to taking baby aspirin; it’s part of the risk we take against a disease that could make us sicker. 

Yes, the work for a cure is going at break-neck speed. It reminds me of Apollo 13, when the side blew off and the engineers had to work on a way to get the astronauts back home, without a lot of time to spare. Sometimes, when the ox is in the ditch, we hustle to figure a way to get him out. 

When we look back at the Civil War, we find that we lost as many soldiers to disease as we did to bullets. The most deadly flu pandemic occurred at the end of World War I, as soldiers came home from overseas. There was little medicine to treat the flu and it spread across the U.S.  Around the world, the flu, often referred to as the Spanish Flu, claimed the lives of 50 million people between 1918 and 1920. 

I trust my doctor, and if he tells me that the eventual vaccine for coronavirus is what I need to take, I will. 

Every county in Georgia has experienced at least one case of the coronavirus. There are people who feel like it is a hoax. I have known two people who died and three others who had a brush with death. 

While research is going on to discover the origin, there are those who believe it may have started in bats and pangolins, a type of anteater. Bats, by the way, are considered a delicacy in some cultures in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim. I would eat a Louisville Slugger baseball bat before I would touch one of those cave dwellers. 

I don’t know all the particulars about wearing masks, but they seem to work in at least slowing down the virus. The same is true about thoroughly washing your hands. 

For all you neigh-sayers, how would you feel if your surgeon walked into the operating room after finishing up a few pieces of fried chicken? He licks his fingers and then comes over to you, sans mask, and says, “Let’s get started.” 

Biosecurity is just one way to keep this from spreading. Something tells me that the anti-mask and anti-hand washing folks would not answer in the affirmative on a question regarding their performance in science class. 

I have taken shots for all the well-known diseases. I had to take them again when the world’s most perfect grandson came along. There are a lot of things I want to give him, but a deadly disease is not one of them. 


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Weekend Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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