This is our second holiday season celebrated under the shadow of COVID-19, and I’ve been seeing some common themes pop up on social media revolving around family get-togethers between vaccinated and unvaccinated kinfolk.

If you have browsed through Facebook or Twitter the last few weeks, you know what I mean. It seems there is always someone fretting about “how do I ask my parents/in-laws/friends if they are vaccinated without offending them”, or “is it rude to show up at a party wearing a mask”, and even “I refuse to visit family if they insist that I be vaccinated and/or wear a mask”.

As former president Richard Nixon used to say, let me say this about that.

Grow up, people.

As I’ve written before, we are only in this bizarre sociological mess because the last guy in office decided to make a public health issue into a political statement because he didn’t want to hurt his re-election chances.

It doesn’t help that today (December 28th), with 52,280,337 national cases and 813,792 deaths reported by the CDC, a major “news” network and several politicians and celebrities continue to spread disinformation, promote quack cures, and just outright lie about the disease and the vaccines available.

Because, really, what’s the big deal? I’ve been getting flu shots every year for decades, had to get several vaccinations before starting school as a child, been vaccinated for shingles and pneumonia, took the hepatitis series before moving to Ecuador for six years – why are the COVID vaccines suddenly and solely an assault on my “freedom”?

Every year, the average American makes 26 trips to the pharmacy to pick up over the counter drugs. Do you research every OTC that you take? Any idea what is in Nyquil or Sudafed? How about diet pills and weight loss products? Do you check to see what Joe Rogan or Alex Jones have to say about Alli or HydroxyCut? We spent collectively $61 billion dollars in 2020 on these kinds of products – again, without questioning their efficacy or contents.

Not to mention the entire holistic medicine, vitamins, and supplements industries. We are talking $82.27 billion dollars in 2020 shelled out for products that are largely unregulated and have never undergone clinical testing. Yet some people gobble those down every day while refusing to take a vaccine that has been clinically tested and approved by the FDA.

And don’t get me started on fast foods, energy drinks, alcohol, cigarettes – we use products that we know for a fact are bad for us all of the time. Yet based on nothing but rumor, folks trotted to the local livestock feed store for horse de-wormer. A ridiculous comment at a press conference caused people to try drinking bleach. But take a proven and tested vaccine to protect myself, my family, friends, and society at large and help stop a pandemic?

Nah, that’s where I draw the line!

Again, grow up.

After two years of dealing with all of the posturing and rhetoric from politicians and TV personalities (the majority of them vaccinated and working under strict COVID protocols) who are happy to promote their careers and fundraise by encouraging people to risk illness and continue to spread of a disease, it is simply time to grow up.

Here are the simple facts about the vaccine. More than 485 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through December 13, 2021. During this time, VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) received 10,483 reports of death (0.0022%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

This fact has been watered down and blown up by the conspiracy minded to prove “the vaccine has killed 10,000 people!”

That is not what the data shows. In fact, the same data source from the CDC prefaces those statistics with the following: Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. There’s a phrase in logical analysis that goes “correlation does not imply causation”. In other words, it is not enough to prove that event B was caused by event A, simply because B followed A.

You see this faulty reasoning in sports all the time. Example, “Our team has never lost a night game on a Monday that followed a double-header at home”, does not mean that the double-header has anything to do with their Monday night win. Nor does it mean it will continue to happen in the future. It simply states the data shows a relationship between the games, not that one is a direct result of the other.

If you delve a little deeper in the CDC data, you find that 5 out of every 1,000,000 people have the kind of severe allergic reaction that is common for any vaccine. Because of the recommended 15-minute waiting period before leaving the vaccination site, this is usually treated quickly and rarely results in death. People who have Guillain-Barré Syndrome may have serious side effects from the Johnson & Johnson shot, but again, 278 reports out of 16.9 million makes that 0.0016%.

Similarly, if you have heart conditions, breathing disorders, are obese, or have other chronic illnesses, then yes, you may be at a slightly higher risk from the vaccine.

But keep in mind that if you have any of those conditions, you are also at higher risk of death or long hospitalization from COVID-19.

By comparison, in the US as of today (December 28th) the current death-to-case ratio is 1.56%. That means even if you insist that all 10,483 deaths were a direct result of the vaccine (which is not true), that would still mean you are 709 times more likely to die from COVID than from the vaccine. If you have trouble understanding what a risk of death from the vaccine of 0.0022% represents, what if I told you I’m going to write down a number between 1 and 46,265. If you guess correctly, you get a $1,000,000. Doesn’t sound like you have much of a chance, does it?

If that is too much data to absorb, here’s an easier one. For adults over 18, the COVID-related hospitalization rate is 8 times higher for the unvaccinated. Twelve times higher for those between 18-49 years of age, and 10 times higher for ages 50-64.

Then there is the benefit to society at large for having as many people as possible vaccinated and following simple precautions like wearing masks (correctly) and social distancing.

Taken all together, any responsible adult should understand that the benefits of getting fully vaccinated far outweigh the tiny (0.0022%, remember?) chance of coming to harm.

Yet here we are, entering our third year dealing with this issue. Ironically, the people complaining loudest about still having to deal with vaccine cards and masks are the ones who have prolonged the health crisis by refusing to get the shots or use masks and social distancing.

I just saw the other day a social media post from the daughter of some old friends. She was complaining that her family was limiting contact with her over the holidays because she has refused shots and masks, and has a job where she is in close contact with other people all day long. Her parents are in their 60’s, her grandmother in her 80’s with some health conditions.

Somehow, to her mind, they were the problem.

Time for her to grow up.

Let’s face it, at this point unless you have a serious health issue that prevents you from getting the vaccine (a real one diagnosed by a medical professional, not some made-up syndrome you read about online or heard from Tucker Carlson), there is no reason other than an inflated sense of self-worth and general obstinacy that prevents you from getting the vaccine.

But alas, there are still those calling the vaccine “jabs”, the childish reaction of name-calling for something you don’t like. Even worse, the “Fauci ouchie” which goes beyond childish and into the infantile.

So please grow up.

You see, if despite everything above you are convinced that aiding society in stopping the spread of a disease somehow hurts your freedom, and that wearing a mask in public is somehow oppressing you, then fine – I accept that you have the right to choose to remain unvaccinated.

However, by the same token, YOU should respect the rights and choices of everyone else who chooses to be vaccinated. Respect the freedom of business owners to set rules for entering their establishment, or rules for employment. If you won’t get vaccinated, then wear a mask in public. If you refuse to wear a mask, then don’t go to places where they are required.

And don’t whine and protest about it. Act like an adult.

We have a word for members of our society who demand that they get their way and yet refuse to accept any responsibility or suffer consequences for their choices. They complain loudly at how unfair the world is, and about how they are being singled out and treated so badly. Sometimes they even fight or refuse to move if they don’t get their way.

We call them “children”.

At some point, children grow up to understand that choices have consequences. Here’s hoping that 2022 will be the year that we as a nation grow up.