Port: I'm getting my kid vaccinated, and now I've been accused of child abuse
Why do the social media keyboard warriors think it's OK?
MINOT — It is my custom to take some vacation days during the week between the Christmas and New Year holidays. It's an opportune time for a newshound like me since not a lot of consequence happens that week anyway. It's not likely I'll miss anything.
This year my wife and I decided we'd use the time to check off some to-do items from our list. Among them, vaccinations. She and I need our boosters, and our 6-year-old son needs his first shot. I made the appointments, and then posted a little update on my personal Facebook page since that's the sort of thing you put on your personal social media platforms.
"Just made vaccine booster shot appointments for Jessica and I over the Christmas holiday. Scheduled Cooper to get his pediatric shot, too," I wrote in what I thought was a perfectly innocuous status update . "Won't make for a very fun Wednesday, but happy to have it scheduled."
What followed my post was 170 comments of anti-vaccine vitriol, including multiple accusations of child abuse for following the advice of our pediatrician to get our son vaccinated (our middle-school-aged daughter is fully vaccinated but isn't yet eligible for her booster).
Here's a sampling (I edited one of the screenshots to blur out a naughty word):
Joining in on the fun was conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen, my boss once upon a time, who snarkily wondered if I'd be adding my vaccination status to my profile picture.
Heaven forbid I be one of those virtue signalers.
Hennen, ironically, is not personally anti-vaccine given that he posted a picture on Facebook from his own appointment to get the shot back in April (I guess it's OK when he does it).
But Hennen, who is no thought leader, is in the business of pandering to anti-vaxxers (and election conspiracy theorists, etc., etc.), which is why he has to keep up appearances by throwing some shade at vaccine status updates.
This sad spectacle was predictable. I knew my status update would elicit some snark, though the accusations of child abuse both surprised and dismayed me. I thought about not posting it at all, but I've been an advocate for vaccination throughout the pandemic (and before). It's important to convey that I believe what I say.
Unlike the Scott Hennens of the world, I'm not going to say one thing and do another. I've been vaccinated. My children have been vaccinated. My wife certainly doesn't need me to tell her what to do, but she's been vaccinated as well, to my great relief since I love her and want her protected.
What bothers me more than the vitriol itself (Facebook is a cesspool, what are you gonna do?) is the fact that it was predictable. This is how people behave now. Not just a few fringy cranks, but people you know. Your friends. Your family.
When did this become OK?
The good news is, despite how loud the anti-vaccine crowd is, they're losing the debate.
Nationally, over 203 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is a rate of 61.6%.
Here in North Dakota, per data from the state Department of Health, 61.4% of eligible people over the age of 18 have had at least one dose of the vaccine. That rate is 54.3% all citizens over the age of 5.
Even better, the rate of vaccine doses administered is accelerating, despite some dips no doubt due to the holiday season:
What's driving some of this acceleration are the booster shots, and the expanded eligibility of the vaccine to younger children, from Dec. 1 -20 over 9,500 first-dose shots were administered to North Dakotans.
That's more than 9,500 more people on their way to being fully vaccinated just so far in December.
No wonder the anti-vaxxers are angry.
Despite their belligerence, they represent a dwindling minority of cranks.
Which leads me to this question for those of you reading this who are still vaccine holdouts: Who are you going to side with? Will it be the consensus of the American medical community, which almost certainly includes your personal doctor? Or will it be with hypocritical, conspiracy-mongering talk radio hosts and the sort of social media keyboard warriors who think it's OK to accuse someone of child abuse for making an informed medical decision for themselves and their children?
I hope that you will consult with your doctor and follow their advice, which will almost certainly lead you to join the growing majority of vaccinated Americans.