Dear friends, family, acquaintances, and online friends… Here’s a rare sincere, non-cat-related post. This is from me, personally, not a shared meme. Lengthy, but from the heart.

When I was 14, I was attacked by a stray dog in my Detroit neighborhood. It could have been much worse, but I was wearing a heavy winter coat, which ended up shredded. I fell to the ground and kicked at the dog, then rolled around to try to escape; but I accidentally rolled into the street right in front of an oncoming car. Luckily, the driver slammed on his brakes and laid on the horn. The startled dog ran away, as I laid on the street looking up at a shiny chrome bumper inches from my face. I was fortunate to not get smashed by the car, but I ended up with numerous bloody bite wounds on my arms and my back, and had visible scars for decades.

At the emergency room, the doctor immediately gave me a vaccine shot to prevent tetanus (also known as lockjaw) a bacterial infection that causes muscle spasms, and can result in death. And since we didn’t know whether this dog was rabid, and there was no way to find it for testing, I needed to get vaccinated against rabies. In 1975 the rabies vaccination was a series of 14 shots in the abdomen, one per day for 14 days.

My parents immediately scheduled the vaccination shots. I’m glad they didn’t just trust my body’s natural immunity or wait and see what happened or wanted to “research” what was in the vaccine before deciding. Because once you show symptoms of rabies, it’s too late for a vaccine; the next step is death. I have no way to know whether that dog was rabid; chances are it was not. But the price of a wrong guess was my very life. The process was very painful and my midsection was red, swollen, and sore for several weeks.

 But I was glad I did it.

Rabies, other viruses, and deadly bacteria are all “natural,” as are hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. Nature has countless ways to kill us. Throughout human history we have used technology to try to protect ourselves from “natural” things. Building shelter, harnessing fire, and wearing the skins of animals were all early ways to prevent nature from killing us. For over 200 years, vaccines have been another way we fight back. Vaccines have saved countless lives and prevented incalculable illnesses and disabilities.

I had the standard required childhood vaccines growing up, which prevented smallpox, polio, measles, and a variety of other diseases. I get a flu vaccine every year, and tetanus boosters as needed. I’ve gotten shingles and pneumonia vaccines, and I got the COVID vaccine as soon as I was eligible.

From me to you: get vaccinated. The COVID dog might bite you or it might not. Don’t wait and see if you get symptoms; it could be too late.

Viruses and vaccines have no political or religious affiliation. Get vaccinated. If you claim to love Jesus, then keep his command to love your neighbor. Get vaccinated to protect them if not yourself. Whatever your religion, they all encourage loving others and looking out for your neighbor. We’re all in this together. So get vaccinated. If you are agnostic, atheist, or spiritually apathetic, get vaccinated because it’s the ethical thing for yourself and your community.

Even if you are just a totally selfish S.O.B., get vaccinated because it will greatly reduce your chance of serious illness or death due to COVID. And surviving is the best way to piss off your enemies. (If you are unvaccinated, you are 7 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people; 49 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people; 32 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people.)

Even if you hate needles, get vaccinated. If I, as a skinny 14 year old boy deathly afraid of needles, could manage daily shots in the belly, you can manage a couple arm jabs. Get vaccinated. (By the way, the rabies shots were not quick jabs with a short needle, but were done with a fully inserted long needle, drawn out slowly to let the vaccine absorb into the dermis. It was not a highlight of my day.)

Get vaccinated because I want you healthy and I want the world to get back to as much of a normal life as possible, as soon as possible. Vaccination is THE single most effective way to achieve this. Get vaccinated. It’s highly effective, free, and easy.

However, there is no current vaccine against getting run over by a car when you roll into the street. So don’t do that.

(PLEASE NOTE – This is written with love. This is not a meme or a copy/paste. This is from me, Darryl. This is a 100% unapologetic encouragement to get vaccinated, in case you didn’t notice. It’s not an invitation to argue or post “what about…” or “but…” comments. There’s already too much misinformation and arguing so I won’t host it here. I love you all, but such comments will be lovingly deleted.)