Don Rogers: Our most precious gift

I got my booster for Christmas, for Omicron. It made the most sense.

We all want to survive, I imagine even more so than we bend ourselves to a party or an ideology, though there might be cause to doubt this these days.

Maybe I’m blessed viewing our Democratic governor, the previous Republican president and politicians like them as fundamentally feckless. I know these are not people to trust automatically by the D or the R. Not with our children, not with our cats, even if we hate cats.

My faith instead falls to probability. I trust, at least broadly, in the statistics showing that the vaccinated have five times less chance of catching the COVID going around, and 13 times less chance of dying from it.

Of course, Omicron looms now, and these odds likely will shift. Maybe I’ll only be twice as protected from a variant that may spread as easily as measles but pack no more punch than Delta.

I understand I can still catch the thing, and I can still die from it. Nothing about this disease is absolute. But it’s clear enough that those who get their vaccinations are far more likely to stay out of the hospital and to live, and those who get their boosters more so yet.

Seems the “experiment” has panned out — objectively so — and only fools at this point are paying the ultimate cost. Speaking of which, former President Donald Trump was booed when he acknowledged he’d gotten his booster. He may have helped dispense some of this particular Kool-Aid, but he’s sharp enough not to drink it.


These holidays, families and friends are mourning two prominent men in the community who spurned vaccinations.

The usual harpies would caw for exposure in the news coverage, and some who knew did. But so far we’ve gone with family wishes in their time of greatest grief, focusing instead on their loved one’s contributions.

The question here is very much like during the early days of AIDS, when occasionally someone locally famous succumbed: When should this cause of death be public?

My memory about reporting on AIDS deaths includes many discussions about individual circumstances. A private citizen whose life did not roil the public waters was a relatively easy call compared to, say, a pastor or politician who railed about just desserts for the kind of people who caught this disease, and then died of it himself, always a him.

None of the people you or I know or know of in our county who have died of COVID were vaccinated, I’ll wager. Stories about locals who died from being vaccinated are apocryphal. That is, BS. The very people spreading these stories, proudly and defiantly anti-vax and anti-mask and dismissive of this “flu” (also more serious than they might think) — well, these are our neighbors most at risk.

Cawing at them won’t help. They have answers for every CDC chart, every legitimate fact, and they aren’t wrong in pointing out that science evolves. They aren’t always wrong about their “evidence,” either, which sometimes does become fully credible. They’re only wrong, dangerously so, about most of it. Fortunately, the bulk of that is easily debunked.

These folks are unmoved by the talk radio hosts who preached against vaccination and died of COVID themselves, the president who fomented all this doubt getting his shots and booster too, word of community icons who went unvaccinated getting sick and dying of the disease. God knows what tall tales our neighbors have told themselves to explain away the obvious.

What can wiser souls do? I think love them anyway, while maintaining appropriate social distance. You are not going to shame them, convince them, reason with them.

You might outlive them, but that’s an awfully cold comfort. The best thing is simply to get your booster. Lead by example. Survive yourself.


In all probablity you won’t die of COVID or anytime soon from those more common killers, cancer and cardiac disease. That’s part of the difficulty here. The Black Plague was obvious.

Bodies today are not stacking up like cordwood in the streets. Our hospitals are not overflowing, at least not most of the time. So it’s easy to treat this disease more lightly than we should. That is, when we’re not overblowing the actual danger.

Exaggerating the disease has cost us, as well. That also is a bigger deal than many may realize. The evidence has grown clear that closing stores, shutting down restaurants, keeping the kids out of school were not warranted in hindsight, a present we have now. We may have done long-term damage to the economy, which we’ll just have see through the length of soaring inflation, the supply chain shortages, the labor challenges.

The surges each have flickered through blue states as much as red. As many people per capita have caught the disease in California as the rest of the nation. The greatest concentration of deaths in the world so far happened in blue, blue New York City and surrounding urban areas.

But Main Street has fared better in the red states and red regions than blue through this pandemic. Kids who attended class in person are ahead of students reduced for long periods to remote learning.

The lessons here are not easy. Nothing about the pandemic has.

If I could gift one thing to everyone, though, it would be the gift of good sense. And to get your booster shot. That’s kind of the same thing.

Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at or 530-477-4299

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