Community Voices
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Recently, I was reminded of the story of “John,” who each week went to the store to check out the winning lottery numbers, and each week John walked away shaking his head in defeat once again. After months of this losing routine, John finally stomped out of the store, looked up, shook his fist at the heavens, and yelled, “God, can I at least win the lottery one time?” Suddenly, the heavens opened, streams of light shone down on John, and God said, “Meet me halfway, John — buy a ticket!”

Our current dysfunction with keeping each other safe during this continuing pandemic reminds me of this story in so many ways. While science has proven that the vaccine is a life-saving action against this unprecedented crisis, so many of us are refusing to get vaccinated and meet God halfway. On Labor Day weekend, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy appealed to all of us by saying once again that “vaccination continues to be the best way to keep people alive and out of the hospital.” Dr. Megan Ranney of Brown University stated, “Everyone I am hospitalizing is not vaccinated,” and “The takeaway for everyone is get your shots and certainly wear a mask for an added layer of protection.” 

At the same time, we have cable news anchors telling their lockstep followers to “refuse the vaccine” and use a dewormer for horses instead; large numbers of first responders, including police, fire, and health care workers, are refusing to get vaccinated, all in the lame rationale of “personal freedom;” and too many governors (and wannabe governors) are bad-mouthing vaccines and threatening withholding funding for school districts and their boards for wanting to mandate masks to keep students safe, all in the name of politics rather than public safety. So sports fans, do we dummy up and listen to the doctors and science? Or do we listen to the crackpots who recommend horse pills, don’t want to get the vaccine while being first responders, and/or politicians who are lying to the public so that they can get re-elected or elected to a higher office? The data is overwhelming: Individuals NOT vaccinated are 99 percent of those dying from COVID-19 and its variants and are those most readily spreading the virus to others. It can’t get much more simple than that. 

I truly believe God does not want us to die from this virus, but we must meet him halfway and take the vaccine to give ourselves and those we love a fighting chance. This is why President Biden mandated vaccines for federal workers and workers for larger companies in an effort to slow the spread and eventually attain herd immunity. At the Boys & Girls Club, we implemented a mandated vaccine policy before the president’s action — and rightfully so. We serve thousands of children and young adults annually, and therefore, it is our responsibility to keep them as safe as humanly possible. As Dr. Fauci recently stated, “The way you protect children because of their age — surround the children with vaccinated people.” (At the time of this writing, one in four new cases nationwide are children.) And while accommodations have become the easy way for individuals to try and skirt this responsibility, we cannot accommodate individuals who directly work with our youth. Therefore, we have basically no accommodations for those working face-to-face with our members. Our youth-development professionals at the Club cannot assist the children we serve from afar, so we must all get vaccinated, or we can no longer remain in the organization’s employ. The same should be said for educators and others who work directly with children and the greater public — we cannot “accommodate” them because they cannot effectively do their jobs from home or an office. We all must either get vaccinated to best limit the spread of the virus and protect those in our care or go into another line of work. The safety of our children and the families we serve is our Club’s number one priority, and it should be the same for so many other professions given their direct contact with both our children and adults alike.

Like John, who wanted to win the lottery, we truly need to accept the free “winning ticket” and take the vaccine. We need to stop making excuses and/or lying to those who trust us, which results in putting children and adults in harm’s way or worse. God isn’t asking too much — take the vaccine and meet him halfway. spt

photo of san pedro today author Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor.