Guest Column
I’m a retired Tampa doctor, and anti-vaxxers puzzle me | Column
It’s amazing to me that people seem willing to give up well-paying jobs to avoid getting their shots.
A nurse delivers a COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic at a Los Angeles area high school.
A nurse delivers a COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic at a Los Angeles area high school. [ ALLEN J. SCHABEN | Los Angeles Times ]
Published Nov. 15, 2021

I’m just not getting it.

I practiced general medicine for 37 years and think I did a good job of it. For the most part, I didn’t practice defensive medicine, which is defined as using excessive diagnostic testing. I just followed the science and felt I did what I had to do to keep patients healthy and safe.

David Lubin
David Lubin [ Provided ]

That’s not to say that the occasional patient may have been prescribed antibiotics for a cold when he or she really didn’t need it, but more often I would withhold antibiotics from someone I felt had a viral illness. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections. Sometimes it was a losing situation for me either way. If they received antibiotics and weren’t better in a couple days, it was obviously my treatment failure. If they didn’t get the antibiotics for a viral illness and had to ride it out, again, it was my treatment failure. So, either way, I would take the blame.

I retired in 2013 and am rather thankful that I wasn’t in the middle of things during the COVID pandemic. I closely followed the vaccine development and learned that very shortly after then President Donald Trump declared Operation Warp Speed against COVID, an mRNA vaccine was developed by both Pfizer and Moderna. Literally days after China released the COVID genetic code, the vaccine was produced. Vaccines usually take years to develop with trials alone running years, but within a year, after trials of 30,000 to 40,000 people, the vaccines were declared over 90% effective, something unheard of with vaccine efficacy. Flu vaccines are considered quite effective with 70% protection.

So, President Trump had declared war on COVID, and the pharmaceutical companies came through with an effective weapon. Wasn’t the purpose of Operation Warp Speed to develop and administer the vaccine? All we had to do was get two shots and we’d get through the pandemic. Vaccines were free and offered at drive through facilities; it couldn’t get much more convenient.

But then something happened. It wasn’t until after Trump lost the election, with his subsequent challenge of the results, that the vaccine was distributed. Millions got vaccinated, and there were a few side effects, as there are with all vaccines, but then people hesitated to get their shots. They wanted more information; the science wasn’t good enough for them. They doubted the pharmaceutical companies and the government. Trump, before leaving office, was blamed for not getting it distributed in a timely manner. President Joe Biden promised 100 million inoculations within 100 days, and just about did it. But people still hesitated, and still do.

I believe that it was a political issue but won’t delve into it. Suffice it to say that people didn’t like government mandates to get inoculated, but we’ve had mandates since George Washington mandated that the military be protected from smallpox during the Revolutionary War. Children have been mandated to get immunized against childhood diseases before they can go to school unless they get a medical or religious exemption. I don’t remember a big stink when we all lined up for our polio vaccines. I can only imagine what Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin would think about the situation.

We could wipe out COVID if nearly all of us were vaccinated. It’s a scientific fact. It’s a fact that about 99% of seriously ill people and those hospitalized have not been vaccinated. There are breakthrough infections in immunized individuals, but they are mild cases for the most part.

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It’s amazing to me that people seem willing to give up well-paying jobs to avoid getting their shots, including tens of thousands of government employees, some who are first responders, whose jobs are to protect their communities and their well-being. Between 30 and 40% of health care workers, whose jobs are more specifically related to protecting our health, have even refused immunization.

Ice Cube, the actor and rapper, walked away from a $9 million movie deal, rather than take the vaccine. Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich was fired from his $3 million dollar a year job, along with four assistant coaches, and more recently, Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, came down with COVID-19 and admitted that he had not been vaccinated. Nearly 100% of NFL players have been. But worse, I believe, is that he said he had been, but he defined immunized by using “air quotes” and admitted to taking Joe Rogan’s advice and took ivermection.

His Packers are off to a great start, and he puts the season in jeopardy (and probably no more hosting of Jeopardy! for him) as well as the players he plays with and against. He says he was allergic to a component of the mRNA vaccine but did not identify it. mRNA vaccines are novel and there are rare reactions to them, possible a sore arm and feeling a little under weather as the vaccine takes effect, but certainly less than with flu vaccines where an allergy to an egg protein can trigger a reaction. The vaccines are safe, effective, pretty much without severe side effects, and are administered at no charge to the public.

What’s even more disturbing to me is that kids whose unvaccinated parents have died will wonder why they just couldn’t have gotten a couple shots.

The more I think about it, I’m just not gettin’ it.

Dr. David Lubin was a general practitioner who retired from practice in 2013. He continues to be active in the Hillsborough County Medical Association, serving as Editor of its magazine, The Bulletin. He lives in Tampa.


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