Getting COVID-19 shot is patriotic thing to do

If the aim is to get rid of COVID, then Cubs holdouts and other athlete deniers have to step up and get the vaccine.

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Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew is among those who have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew is among those who have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jeff Roberson/AP

OK, I’m just going to say it: Get your damn shots, people!

I’m speaking to all able-bodied, qualifying Americans who don’t have pre-existing health conditions, transportation issues or any other valid reason for not getting the widely available — free — COVID-19 vaccine.

Pointedly, however, I’m speaking to those deluded anti-vaccine Cubs players and all the other elite athletes who won’t get shots.

I’ve had it with the we-don’t-want-to-hurt-anyone’s-feelings-or-shame-anyone-into-doing-something-they’re-not-comfortable-with approach. I’ve had it with the bribery to get citizens to do the right thing. Giving gift certificates, hunting licenses, lottery tickets and amusement-park rides to people just so they reluctantly will acknowledge they live among fellow humans who need each other to exist — it’s unseemly, vile and immoral.

The Tokyo Olympics, already delayed a year because of the pandemic, will have no spectators. Once at a smolder, COVID now is raging in Japan.

The viral fire might happen again here, too. The Delta variant is now the dominant strain, and it’s more contagious than the original.

Public-health directors tell us people who haven’t been vaccinated make up nearly all recent COVID hospitalizations and deaths.

Do those head-in-the-sand Cubs realize this viral scourge, which has killed more than 600,000 Americans and 4 million people worldwide, is what is called a pandemic? Any recollection of that word from high school science, fellows?

Viruses mutate slightly each time they move to a new host, and a mutation occasionally will lead to a more viable, more dangerous strain. And the way that virus can live on is to have ready hosts available, so that it has a place to go and replicate. Otherwise, the virus dies out.

If everyone in our country got a vaccine, COVID would all but disappear. It’s that simple.

Yet there are the Cubs, who have been asked by Major League Baseball to get 85% of the team vaccinated for relaxed mask and gathering protocols and for the betterment of society. As patriots.

But nope. Not even close. Most major-league teams have crossed the threshold. Not our Cubs.

A bunch are fine doing nothing. Hey, nobody’s got COVID around them!

Terrific.

Do they realize the only reason they’re fine is because more than 100 million of their fellow citizens have stepped up and gotten their shots? Those Cubs deniers thrive on others’ courage, sacrifice and duty.

Polio, a terrible disease, has been eradicated in America since 1979 because children must get four vaccine doses before entering school, no questions asked. There are many other diseases we mandate vaccines for.

No, the COVID vaccines aren’t perfect, but they’re the best defense we’ve got.

True, COVID vaccines don’t have approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The reason for that is the approval process takes years. But the vaccine has been approved for emergency use — and this is an emergency, remember?

‘‘As a global citizen, it’s the best way I can help make the pandemic end sooner,’’ U.S. Olympic climber Kyra Condie said about getting the vaccine.

Then there’s U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew, 22, a likely medal winner, who won’t get the vaccine.

Why?

His family is very religious, he has said, and ‘‘kind of, I wouldn’t say a conspiracy-theory type of family, but we’re definitely on the side where we look for what other methods are there.’’

Andrew didn’t go away to college. His mother, Tina, explained to ESPN awhile back: ‘‘Michael doesn’t need to be inundated with sex and drugs and ideas from liberal professors.’’

Swell.

Another U.S. Olympian who won’t get vaccinated is veteran archer Brady Ellison, 32. He rather would take the risk of getting COVID for a second time, he said, ‘‘than the risk of a vaccine.’’

For various reasons, no authorities are mandating that athletes get vaccinated. Not even in the military. If I had the power, I would mandate it. Get a shot or get out. Wouldn’t matter whom you were.

Private companies can make rules like that. A hospital chain in Texas fired everyone who wouldn’t get vaccinated. Completely legal.

One painful irony is that America has more vaccine than it needs, while much of the rest of the world is begging for doses. To be an American and thumb one’s nose at such bounty is simply wrong.

Olympians will be tested for COVID daily. Deniers such as Andrew and Ellison will be watched extra closely. But there’s no guarantee in Tokyo or anywhere about anything regarding this virus.

Viruses are cagey. They can be beaten, but their best chance for winning is human ignorance, superstition and selfishness.

Athlete deniers are unpatriotic cowards. Did somebody need to say that? I think so. And I just did.

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