Really? Really.

coronaFor years, I started the day reading the online news.  Yes, I was interested in what was going on in the world.  But the fun part was looking for blog-post material, things that my inner curmudgeon could sink his literary teeth into.   People found his satirical takes on the news funny and so did I.   Ah, but that was before The Donald and The Coronavirus.  There is still plenty of news to write about but I find it scary.   The headline that caught our eye this morning was Joints for Jab?  Washington OKs free pot as vaccine incentive.   Yes, folks, licensed marijuana stores in the State of Washington are also giving COVID-19 shots, and yes folks, the state has authorized them to give away one free joint for using their service.

This is just the latest in the trend for government and businesses to offer incentives to get vaccinated against COVID.  Yep.  People need incentives to get vaccinated against a disease that has killed over half a million Americans.  In Indiana, people can get one free box of Girl Scout Cookies.  I guess the sentiment is, Well, shit, I don’t care if I die but I do like those Samoas.  The Shake Shack is offering free crinkle cut fries in New York City, Krispy Kreme is offering one freesamoa donut a day for showing your vaccination record card (sure to increase traffic in counterfeit record cards) and the Coney Island location of Nathan’s Hot Dogs is offering a free hot dog on the day of your vaccination.  It’s worth noting that two of these four incentives are in New York, the site of one of the nation’s worst COVID outbreaks.  Apparently afraid of competition from the newly legalized psychoactive drug, liquor companies are offering a free drink:  nationwide, Anheuser-Busch is offering a free beer and in Miami, people can get Shots for Shots.  It goes on and on:  Lotteries for a lot of money (Ohio offers a million dollar prize!), scholarships, hunting and fishing equipment, and a free experience (like the Bronx Zoo, Six Flags Great America in Illinois, and two laps around the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama).   I’ll bet you thought people would get vaccinated to avoid the experience of dying alone on a ventilator in the hospital.

shotLet me offer this experience.  Jump into Oldereyes’ time machine and travel with me to the year 1955 (courtesy The Patriot Ledger): In 1955, an epidemic began in Suffolk County and moved on from there. State health officials downplayed the possibility of an epidemic – until the number of cases began to mount.  “A large increase in the number of polio cases on the South Shore and the entire state is a cause of worry for many South Shore families,” the Quincy Patriot Ledger reported on July 30, 1955.   By then, the disease had claimed its first victim in Norfolk and Plymouth counties, a Quincy boy a month shy of his fifth birthday. By year’s end, with new cases still being reported, the disease would claim 48 lives in the two counties out of nearly 1,000 cases, the highest incidence of deaths and cases of any area of the state that year.   More than 3,600 cases were reported in 1955 in Massachusetts, the largest ever outbreak in the state.  Those fighting the disease were frequently placed in an “iron lung,” a metal tube designed to help them breathe. At one point that year, 63 children from the South Shore were being treated in the devices.   Some patients, like (President) Roosevelt, had to wear heavy braces on their legs in order to walk after they recovered.  In April researchers announced the Salk Polio vaccine was safe and effective. Despite problems with a botched batch of the vaccine, it was widely used that year.  According to Time magazine, When Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine debuted its first mass inoculation against polio in 1954, the only fear most parents felt was that it wouldn’t become widely available fast enough to save their kids.  The vaccine eventually nearly eradicated polio.   No donuts, no cookies, no beer.

Even my Inner Curmudgeon, who is not the most compassionate guy in the world, thinks this is sad.   What does it say about someone who needs a donut or a beer to get a shot that could save their life or that of someone they love?  For all the technological advances since 1955, we seem to have lost our way.  But OK.  Get a free beer, have joint.  Go to the the zoo free.   But please, vaccinate.

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