Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Saturday, October 2, 2021

We’ve Never Protected the Vulnerable

Aaron Carroll
The Atlantic
Originally posted 5 Sept 21

Here is an excerpt:

The Americans With Disabilities Act provides for some accommodations for people with disabilities or diseases in certain situations, but those are extremely limited. They also apply only to the afflicted. My friend’s wife, a teacher, couldn’t tell her school that she needed special treatment because someone was vulnerable in her life. The school implemented no precautions to reduce her chance of being exposed to illness and getting sick, in order to keep her husband safe at home. Neither could his kids demand changes at their schools. Asking schools to alter their behavior to protect relatives of students may seem like a big ask, but I couldn’t even persuade all of our close friends to get vaccinated against the flu to protect him.

COVID-19 has exposed these gaps in our public solidarity, not caused them. The way we handle influenza is the best example, as the infectious disease that usually causes the highest number of deaths each year. Even though the young and the old are at real risk from flu, along with the immunocompromised, we’ve almost never engaged in any special protections for these groups. I’ve begged people for years to get immunized to protect others, and most don’t listen. Other countries mask more during respiratory-virus seasons; almost no one even thinks of masking here. Few distance from others, even though that’s a more palatable option for most Americans. To the contrary, many people consider it a mark of pride to “tough it out” and come to work while sick, potentially exposing others.

Our current situation with COVID-19 is especially difficult because so many Americans believe they’ve already given more than enough. Any further adjustments to their life, even if they seem small, feel like too much to bear. It’s natural that Americans want to get back to normal, and I’m not arguing that we should lock down until no risk remains. I’m asking that we think about others more in specific settings. We don’t all have to wear a mask all the time, but we could get used to always carrying one. That way, if we are around people who might live with others at high risk, we could mask around them and stand a little farther away. We could cancel our evening plans or miss a concert if we’re sick. Is it really that hard to get a flu shot every year?