Port: Who are you willing to let vaccine obstinance kill?

I ask you, vaccine resisters, who among your loved ones are you willing to lose to the virus? How big a hospital bill are you willing to pay for your obstinance?

Medical scrubs and marker filled messages on signs and bodies highlighted a divided medical community in Dickinson on Thursday as protestors gathered in front of CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson in opposition to employment dependent mandates for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

MINOT, N.D. — I live in the shadow of a great man.

My father is a war hero, having been awarded the Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his service in Vietnam.

He was a legendary cop in the state of Alaska, investigating everything from murder and organized crime to political corruption. His work in taking down infamous serial killer Robert Hansen was portrayed by Nicholas Cage in the movie " On Frozen Ground ."

When my family moved to North Dakota, my father, then retired from law enforcement, started a business as a private investigator that earned him no small degree of notoriety. I may publish daily columns for the largest news media organization in North Dakota, but when people recognize me they routinely ask, "Aren't you Rollie Port's kid?"

I am, and proud of it.


Just a few years ago my father, retired at the time, saved a police officer's life after coming across a traffic stop that turned violent along Highway 83 south of Minot.

He just can't help but be the hero.


I idolize my dad, so when he called me from a hotel room in Fargo saying he was having trouble breathing and asking if he should go to the hospital, I was as terrified as I was frustrated that he thought he needed to ask.
Get thee to a physician, I told him.

My mom and dad had both tested positive for COVID-19 days before while traveling and decided to quarantine in a Fargo hotel. My mother came through it fine, but my father's condition worsened until, feeling scared, he called me.

He's out of the hospital now, and doing fine, as is my mother.

They were both vaccinated.

I hate to think what would have happened if they hadn't been.


The culture war around vaccines has become a disgrace to our society. We've reached a point where a 2024 presidential hopeful, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, is pushing subsidies for vaccine resisters.

We're talking about a taxpayer-funded incentive to not get vaccinated.

We are through the looking glass, folks.

And yet, based on the data available to us, the efficacy of the vaccine is not in doubt.

The North Dakota Department of Health has made data available on "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19. That is to say, instances of the virus occurring in people who have been fully vaccinated.

"Of the 350,927 individuals who have been fully vaccinated since vaccines were available on December 14, 2020, 0.1089 % have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, 2.469 % became infected with COVID-19, and 0.0230 % have died due to COVID-19," the DoH tells us.


When I accessed this data it was reported through Oct. 17. In that time window, just one in 41 full-vaccinated people tested positive for COVID-19.

That rate was one in seven among the unvaccinated.

The charts based on this data are compelling:

My parents were breakthrough cases. They contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. My father was hospitalized because of it. But they're also elderly (sorry, mom and dad) and, like nearly all of us, have underlying health complexities that undoubtedly exacerbated the situation.

Even so, if they hadn't been vaccinated, my family almost certainly would have lost them.

Last year, COVID-19 put me in the hospital for 11 days. It nearly killed me . The vaccines weren't available then. If they had been, I almost certainly could have avoided the worst of that ordeal.


So I ask you, vaccine resisters, who among your loved ones are you willing to lose to the virus?

How big a hospital bill are you willing to pay for your obstinance?

Because while the COVID-19 pandemic is still upon us, increasingly it's a pandemic of the unvaccinated .

To comment on this article, visit

Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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