There’s One Reason Why Your “Right” To Not Get The Covid Vaccine Doesn’t Stand Up…

Kenneth Burke, M.D.
2 min readOct 30, 2021

And let me tell you why.

Photo by Mufid Majnun Unsplash

As a practicing physician I have heard just about every reason why people think they should not get the vaccine, or don’t need one. By this time I am sure you have too. ( Side note- I think it is interesting that we now have shortened Covid vaccine to “THE vaccine”as if no other vaccines exist.)

To be honest, I am weary of it by now. Actually, that is not a strong enough word- I am sick of it.

Am I weak? Perhaps. But I have found that mentally jousting with people about their beliefs is a losing battle and a mentally exhausting one at that. As one person put it to me, “Doc, it’s like arguing football, politics, and religion- all at the same time.”

I think he may be on to something there.

So I have given up on trying to engage patients and sway them. I answer any questions they may have, but I have given up on the idea that I am the “Vaccine Whisperer” and will get people to change their minds at this point.

But there is one argument that doesn’t stand up. People feel that they have the “right” not to get vaccinated. It is their body. They should govern what they put into it. No one can tell them what to do in that regard.

There is a tenet of medicine called patient autonomy; they have the ability to reject a treatment even though a physician may feel that is not the right course. Long gone are the days of “I’m the doctor, you’re the patient. Do as I say.”

We are now at a place and time where the doctor patient relationship is a partnership. As I tell patients, “I am your tour guide. I can take you to Treasure Island or Pirates Cove. Tell me where you want to go.”

However, in the case of covid we are dealing with an unprecedented public health emergency with limited treatment resources for the acutely ill, and a very real risk of death.

So yes, you have the right not to get a colonoscopy, or a mammogram, or a tetanus shot.

But if you don’t go for your colonoscopy, I can’t get your cancer.

But if you don’t get vaccinated, you can make me sick.

And I can die.

And no one has the right to put another person’s life at stake.

No one.

DISCLAIMER: The words and opinions expressed are the author’s own and not those of his employer.