My patient died nine days later from a fatal stroke. We, the care team, reconciled this loss by telling ourselves: He made a personal choice not to get vaccinated, not to protect himself or his family. We did everything we could with what we had to save him. This year, this tragedy, this unnecessary, entirely preventable loss, was on him. The burden of this pandemic now rests on the shoulders of the unvaccinated. On those who are eligible to get vaccinated, but choose not to, a decision they defend by declaring, “vaccination is a deeply personal choice.” But perhaps never in history has anyone’s personal choice impacted the world as a whole as it does right now. When hundreds and thousands of people continue to die, when the most vulnerable members of society, our children, cannot be vaccinated — the luxury of choice ceases to exist.
It is not a personal choice when the lives of those around you are at stake, it is a selfish act of cowardice.