This post was originally published on St. Louis American

Jamala Rogers

By Jamala Rogers

Children are dying because of COVID-19. More specifically, they are most likely being infected and dying because of adults around them.

As a concerned human and a “village mama,” my patience has run out. The surge in new cases and deaths are directly related to the unvaccinated. In many cases, these are the same people who refuse to wear masks or social distance. This selfishness has deadly consequences.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases in children accounted for more than 20% of August cases. The numbers are expected to continue surging and, not surprisingly, Black and brown children are most at risk. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for teens, but children under 12 are left vulnerable.

I understand a righteous suspicion of the government, the medical industrial complex and corporate America. I’ve written enough about them over the years to make readers wary of their every move.

Knowledge of that history didn’t disappear when I made an informed decision to get vaccinated. As a healthy and empowered woman, the decision was not about me and my personal and political views. It was for my elderly mother, for my diabetic sister, (and millions like her), for relatives and friends with cancer and for friends and relatives with respiratory ailments from asthma to COPD. It was for the traumatized frontline healthcare workers who have been overwhelmed for months with COVID-19 patients.

I do differ with the CDC’s mask policy that vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks. Nobody knows who has been vaccinated or not, so I’m wearing my mask whenever I leave the house. 

I have no sympathy for the fearful, misguided, lazy, unrealistic, timid, distrustful, ignorant, stubborn, ideologically inflexible, foolish, dishonest, conspiracy theorists and racists (whatever shoe fits, put it on).

Non-governmental groups have done a ton of education and I’ve delivered my best persuasive arguments. It’s clear to me now: It’s not that the unvaccinated don’t know better, most are just refusing to DO better.

I’m going to share a two-prong approach with you because we are in a desperate situation.

First, thank people for wearing their masks — literally.

Thank businesses, educational systems, and places of worship for enforcing mask wearing because it protects us all. Kudos to St. Louis City and County for mandating masks in public place and on public transportation. Kudos to places like City Museum, Saint Louis University, Washington University, restaurants like Bait’s and Mokabe’s.

Thank any entity that is requiring the vaccination. Mayor Tishaura Jones has required the city’s 6,000 employees to get vaccinated. Ditto for Kelvin Adams, St. Louis Public Schools superintendent (with a lil’ help from AFT Local 420). The more public workers that are vaccinated, the safer the rest of us are. It works both ways.

The second approach to discussing protection from the coronavirus is by moving from education to agitation. It’s time to ramp up the accountability phase. 

A friend reported that she has been debating the vaccine issue with her brother, who stuck to his risk/factor argument. She reminded him that he has unprotected sex, which also has its risks. The friend’s brother has not been vaccinated, but his concerned sister’s reasoned rebuttal gave him pause. 

If we had leaders who were willing to make bold but controversial decisions at the beginning of the pandemic, we would be in a different place. I predict that we will hit a million deaths by the end of this year. Many of those deaths could’ve been avoided. It’s time to make everyone accountable for their non-actions to the virus. COVID-19 has reminded us just how connected we are to one another. As humans, that’s a good thing to remember.