A significant number of first responders across the nation mention “liberty” as their reason for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to recent news reports.

This seems to be an echo of the “nobody’s going to tell me what to do” mantra that was raised in opposition to auto seatbelt mandates, anti-smoking regulations and other public health initiatives that have proven to save lives.

These alleged rugged individuals yelling “don’t tread on me” have it all wrong.

Getting vaccinated against COVID, or any other infectious disease, has nothing to do with one’s rights or liberty. To insist that it does is short-sighted, selfish, and dangerous.

Instead, vaccination is a matter of 

public health, common sense, self-protection and caring for one’s fellow man and woman. If a person is religious, vaccination is a way of loving one’s neighbor, as Jesus Christ commanded. Conversely, to cite religion as a reason for not getting vaccinated seems strange indeed. Hate thy neighbor?

Recent news reports cite COVID-19 as the number one cause of death for first responders today in the United States. Several weeks ago, Florida officials reported that over 300 first responders had died of COVID in that state alone.

First responders owe it to themselves, their families, and the public that they serve, to be protected against this deadly and highly infectious disease and not be an agent of spreading it to others.

Many private individuals, in general, use this same excuse — asserting their liberty — to refuse vaccination. In the meantime, hospitals are filled with people severely ill and dying from COVID, almost all of them unvaccinated.

While fully-vaccinated people occasionally get breakthrough COVID infections, these cases are generally mild and seldom require hospitalization, almost never resulting in death.

Many people, on the other hand, who now shout “Give me liberty, or give me death,” may get their wish.

E.T. MALONE, JR.

Warrenton