As COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths rise again across the country, there rests, on the tips of many vaccinated Americans’ tongues, an exasperated rant waiting to be set free.

It’s a rant those who have followed the rules, the science and common sense wish to direct at those willfully refusing the safe and effective coronavirus vaccines that can largely halt the aforementioned infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

At the risk of speaking for millions of vaccinated Americans who are simply exhausted by nonsense, here is that rant. You’re welcome to borrow it, share it or find ways to make it your own:

Hi there. If you’re willfully unvaccinated and don’t have a health issue that prevents you from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, I am judging you harshly.

I don’t care if my judgment somehow steels your resolve to not get a vaccine that is safe, free, readily available and staggeringly effective. I’m done pretending the burden is somehow on me, the person acting responsibly, to coddle you, the person acting irresponsibly, and to pretend there’s some magical middle ground where we can meet up and hash things out.

There isn’t a middle ground. Over here on my side, there is scientific data, the overwhelming consensus of medical professionals, historical precedent and a recognition that a convoluted sense of individual liberty can’t override public health. On your side is a sad tapestry of tweets and Facebook posts from grifters, unhinged know-nothings and vaccinated politicians who want your money and your vote and couldn’t give a flip if you live or die.

I can’t meet people halfway when the halfway point exists in a conspiratorial land of make believe.

I keep hearing how we just need to reach out to the unvaccinated and coax them along and explain why getting the vaccine is important. I bought that when vaccines first came out around the beginning of the year.

But c’mon, it’s August. More than 166 million Americans are fully vaccinated, and guess what? You, the willfully unvaccinated, are the reason the deadlier and more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has unleashed hell across swaths of the country, largely in areas that—surprise! —have low vaccination rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 99% of COVID-19 deaths and more than 97% of COVID-19 hospitalizations now involve people who have not been vaccinated.

I’m feeling volcanically outraged that ICU beds in Florida and Texas are filling up with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients of all ages as politically sadistic Republican governors ban mask and vaccine mandates while simultaneously getting ventilators from the federal government and help from out-of-state health workers.

It’s awful that you’re feeling excluded from things because you chose to get health advice from a manic pillow magnate and not your doctor.

You, the unvaccinated, are endangering others. And your go-to excuse— “If you’re vaccinated, you’re safe, so why do you care?”—is several steps past ignorant.

I am vaccinated, and that does make me quite safe, but I care for reasons I will now recite rapid-fire:

Children 12 and under still can’t get vaccinated and more of them are getting sick with the delta variant and there are vulnerable people who can’t get the vaccine for other medical reasons and front-line workers in hospitals are already exhausted and now they’re dealing with a new wave of largely preventable infections and vaccinated people who need non-COVID medical procedures done are being told they have to wait and while most people who get COVID survive there are still concerns about future health issues and some who survive come out with damaged lungs and hearts and other health problems that will cause long-term disability and all of this was horrible when we had no vaccine and little understanding of the virus now it’s happening when we have a vaccine and all it takes to address every single one of these concerns is for people to get their shots!

I’m weeks past caring about the feelings of the unvaccinated-by-choice. I’m not your dad. It’s not my job to gently explain accurate, readily available information so you can turn around and say, “Well, but on the other hand, I read this thing on the internet that said it gives you butt warts.”

The same phone you use to send a tweet slamming Anthony Fauci can be used to find information that fully explains why the vaccines are safe. And every minute you don’t get those shots is another minute you’re putting people at risk and contributing to a school being shut down or a mask mandate getting reinstated.

If you feel you’re being judged harshly, it’s because you are. I want you to feel uncomfortable.

Because it’s high time sane people in this country stopped pretending there’s a middle ground between sensible and selfish.


Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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