As a kid, I would read my favorite newspaper columnists. I loved looking up the big words used by George Will. Lewis Grizzard’s humor was solid gold, every single time. I enjoyed the show business name-dropping of Earl Wilson. I even liked the gossipy “scoops” uncovered by government watchdog Jack Anderson. 

Many of those columnists would occasionally do a “From the Mailbag” column, answering questions from readers. It seemed like a lazy way to fill their space during a week in which they were not inspired to write an actual column. Or perhaps they were otherwise occupied with health issues, vacation time, or common chores.

Thankfully, my health appears to be fine, and I’m not on vacation. But those weeds in my yard aren’t trimming themselves, so let’s go to the mailbox:

Hello David, it seems like everyone is talking about vaccinations, but unless I have missed something, I haven’t seen your take on it. Have you been jabbed? If so, were you among the first in line, or were you reluctant? And have there been any side effects?”

Oh yes, I’ve had the “Fauci ouchie” and I’m proud of it. As soon as my wife and I became eligible (last March) we got in line. To my knowledge, I’ve always been fully vaccinated for all the childhood stuff, the flu, and even shingles, with no hesitation. If my doctor recommends it, I follow that advice. 

Apparently, everyone has a different reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine (my vaccine was Moderna). Some folks barely notice it, while others say it wiped them out for a day or two. Some say their arm is sore, others say their knee joints ache. For me, it was a brief toothache. At least I think it was caused by the vaccine. Or maybe I had too much hard candy that day, who knows?

Everyone is free to choose, and with so many lies being spread by certain “news channels” and Facebook fakes, I can see why some people are skittish. But the numbers prove that while yes, vaccinated people can still get the virus (as doctors said from the beginning), their chances of being seriously ill, as in “ventilator ill” are greatly reduced. Plus, as epidemiologist Brian Castrucci said,"Severe vaccine reactions happen within days, they don't take years. We've been vaccinating people for several months. It's safe."

Ninety-something percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in recent weeks are not vaccinated, and for some of them, it was too late. If I’m drowning, and someone offers me a life jacket, I’m not going to argue about their politics.

As you will recall, former President Trump accelerated the vaccine development known as Operation Warp Speed, and Trump himself got vaccinated in January. So why are some of his most ardent supporters so opposed to the “Trump vaccine?” 

David, why are you news media types spreading fear about the Delta variant of the virus? Is this just a way to boost ratings? We are tired of the fear mongering.”

I know I come across as a defender of journalists more than many of you would like. This is how I’ve made my living for the past thirty years, and at least on the local level, I have not seen the manipulation of which we are so often accused. 

What if media outlets conspired to cover up or downplay the emergence of a virus that has taken the lives of 600,000 Americans, so far? What would be the outcry about that? And now with this new threat, should journalists just look the other way? Sadly, some cable hosts do, and they have a large, vulnerable audience.

For those who put their trust in Facebook doctors, and believe the government is trying to turn them into zombies, nothing the mainstream media says matters anyway. So again, I’ll quote Brian Castrucci: “What if I’m driving on a busy highway, and I suddenly slam on my brakes and just stop? (Because of my freedom and liberty.) Well, my individual actions have tragic consequences for others. If you wouldn’t slam your brakes on a busy highway, consider getting the vaccine.”

In closing, as America’s slowest-rising newspaper columnist, most of the letters and e-mails I get are delightful and greatly appreciated. But then there’s this guy:

Mr. Carroll, you are part of the problem. You’re just another Communist who is trying to bring down our nation. You condemned the so-called insurrection and riot at the Capitol, which was mostly a peaceful protest by great patriots. It’s lamestream media morons like you who exist only to stir the pot and spread lies and hatred.”

No doubt you’re speaking for many people. I could either respond, or I could trim those weeds. I will choose the most productive option.

(David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor and radio host. You may find him online at ChattanoogaRadioTV.com, or contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or RadioTV2020@yahoo.com)

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