Stupidity Could Be Fatal

Forrest Gump said it best in the movie; “Stupid is as stupid does”. Many years after those words were spoken on the movie screen, it seems that many people in the United States are proving Forrest Gump was correct.

Last year the United States and the world was hit by the biggest pandemic in more than a century. As the virus spread across the globe and in this country, cities and states went into lockdown. The economy crashed into a COVID recession as events were cancelled and “non essential” businesses were closed. That worked for a while as we “flattened the curve” on infections. Then we slowly re-opened and infections from the pandemic really took off.

However late last year, a miracle happened. Three highly effective vaccines were developed that could end this pandemic quickly. After a slow start, vaccinations ramped up in late winter and spring this year as many Americans got vaccinated. New infections dropped and we could go to shows and ball games again. People could travel again. The economy came roaring back.

But then something happened. The rate of vaccinations in the United States slowed to a crawl as vaccination rates in some parts of the country were still less than 40% while in others, vaccination rates among those eligible are as high as 70%. Now, the country is in the grips of what has been called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as hospitals in certain parts of the country are filling up with COVID patients.

The patients in the hospital with COVID are younger with many in their 30s and 40s and are 99% unvaccinated. Even with cases shutting down certain parts of the country, many people still do not intend to get vaccinated against COVID despite the success of the vaccines protecting those who have been vaccinated.

I am old enough to remember when the polio vaccines came out in 1955 and in 1962. No one questioned the vaccine. Since my mother was a nurse, as soon as the vaccine was available, my family went to our doctor’s office and got the vaccination. Later they brought the vaccinations into the schools to vaccinate the children. My mother volunteered to help the doctor with the polio shots at Ridge Brook elementary school.

Later a new, more effective polio vaccine was developed in 1962 and could be taken orally. They organized Sabin Oral Sundays and again used the schools as community vaccination centers. I remember my family going to the new Greenbriar school in the summer of 1962 to get the new polio vaccine.

No one questioned the polio vaccine even though our knowledge of virology then was far less advanced than it is now. The Salk vaccine in 1955 was revolutionary. In fact, the Sabin oral vaccine used live polio viruses.

Perhaps one reason why no one questioned the vaccines then was that our parents and grandparents remembered when killer diseases took many lives. My grandparents went through the influenza pandemic from 1918 to 1920. My mother was born in September 1918 at the peak of the pandemic. Diphtheria and whooping cough killed many children in my parent’s youth.

Perhaps in that era, there was more of a spirit of community and that the public good was more important than one’s “personal freedom”. Back then most of our public officials did the right thing and didn’t care about who got credit for successes and who got blamed for failures.

What has become evident now is that most of the world doesn’t have the vaccination capacity as the United States. To our nation’s credit, the United States is making 500 million doses of the vaccine available to the rest of the world. These vaccines have the potential to end this pandemic everywhere.

However, in the United States where there is ample supplies of the vaccine and it is readily available at no cost to anyone, roughly 45% of Americans are still unvaccinated. Even some people hospitalized with COVID are still suspicious of getting vaccinated.

In parts of the country where new COVID cases are increasing, things are shutting down again. This is true in Arkansas where their vaccination rate among those eligible is less than 40%. I had a trip to Arkansas planned over the Labor Day weekend that has been cancelled due to COVID shut downs. I am hesitant to travel there even though I am fully vaccinated.

There is no good reason not to get vaccinated except a bona fide medical reason. This is just sheer stupidity and those unvaccinated people are proving that Forrest Gump was correct.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:37 AM, 08.01.2021