By now those who either do not wear masks or else have decided not to ever get any of the available coronavirus vaccines are pretty familiar with the epithets directed at them. Comments range from benign titles to fighting words, and for the most part, continue to land on deaf ears.

The most recent critical declaration is that the current surge of cases in all states is now described by the CDC as a pandemic of the unvaccinated – this in spite of the fact that there is a growing number of breakthrough cases, meaning any of those who have been fully vaccinated who subsequently are infected with this coronavirus. Some of those breakthrough cases have even required hospitalization, an unfortunate occurrence particularly in light of all the publicity about how these vaccinations could and would prevent hospitalizations.

In actuality, this has been a pandemic of the unvaccinated from the moment this coronavirus began infecting residents of China. No one had a natural immunity to this virus at that time and everyone was unvaccinated against it. Attempts to shame the unvaccinated with that direct insinuation, that they are at fault for our dire situation, is a failure of honesty as much as it is an unwillingness to spread the responsibility in a fair manner.  

One well-known broadcaster I have followed, who on-air purports to be a Christian, seems to enjoy taunting the holdouts, including the show’s call-ins, who disagree with the host’s shrill demands for a covid vaccine mandate and vaccine passports. Whether the host thinks they may be entertaining their audience or believes they are being oh so clever whenever they disparagingly describe those who refuse to wear a mask as “Trump holes”, I consider this to be yet another example of hypocritical conduct.

Another highly-educated aspiring clownster, now a multi-format caster, also made the same mistake of trying to shame people into getting the vaccines. After many months, he has now made room to allow for the tolerance of personal choice granted in our civil liberties, though with obvious disdain for those who are holdouts.

I find it perplexing when politicians, news anchors, and said media personalities keep wondering why there are so many (estimates are 60-80 million) who are refusing to get vaccinated. Perhaps their circle is so much smaller, or insular, that they do not personally know anyone who has suffered recent or past vaccine injury or worse. Or maybe the proponents have not read the same articles and medical research the rest of us have ingested, information that comes from legitimate sources, not from conspiracists. 

They may benefit from listening to interviews given by the inventor of the mRNA technology (developed about 30 years ago) who has explained in layman terms his own concerns and reservations over what has been going on with the application of his work. What he has to say about the actions in areas of the brain and other organs, that these particular injections have been causing, is alarming.

Much of the resistance to these newly minted vaccines that were given emergency use authorization is driven in large part by statements that materialize and morph almost weekly. As more stats emerge, the CDC, World Health Organization, and respected public health experts convey vast differences of opinion.

Despite this truth, many proponents remain fixated on blaming the non-compliant as aligning with the former president, or worse, ignorant of their own accord. As if human behavior was as simple as that.

Both positions seem ludicrous and shut down any meaningful opportunity to arrive at respectfully disagreeing or peaceful tolerance of the “other”.

There are plenty of adults who recall the fears generated in 1976 over the swine flu and how that particular vaccine was enthusiastically promoted. Ten weeks after those injections started, that campaign came to a screeching halt. Twenty-five people died and more than 500 people were believed to have gotten Guillain-Barre syndrome. (For those unfamiliar, a Los Angeles Times article in 2009 summarizes that public health incident in a headline containing the word debacle. It would be hard to dispute that description.)

My mother refused to allow any of my siblings to get that vaccine. Her reasons were as solid as those we now hear about these current emergency use authorization injections. The only difference is she had to wait a mere 10 weeks to be vindicated, unlike this population who may find out in the next year or so that what many hopefuls thought was a great idea at the time has turned out to be less than great.  

In 1976 twenty-five deaths was the equivalent of enough is enough.

Yet with these COVID vaccinations — despite claims of serious side effects, or injury, or more than suspicions of vaccine-related deaths in numbers far beyond 25 or 500 — the campaign by government officials and others in authority to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible continues, and with the same flurry of urgency.

Many who dare speak up to try to explain their opposing position or concerns, whether it be in a public forum or just to family members and friends, are feeling like it’s a third rail. It does not seem worth the risk to their employment, relationships, mental health, or in some instances their safety, to engage in any discussion that centers on the growing reports of 1) actual immediate side effects, 2) short term side effects or 3) the potential side effects that may only show up three years from now. Like autoimmune conditions.

Whether any of the testimonies documented in the news and with the CDC — or any of the suspicions about the vaccine injuries and the known or presumed deaths that follow soon after the injections — convince the FDA to withhold approval is yet to be decided. But I venture to guess that even if these experimental vaccines are ultimately given the all-clear, it will not be sufficient enough for the non-compliant to bring on any semblance of the coveted herd immunity.

It is understandable why this large group of non-compliant people has essentially resorted to self-muzzling. Perhaps some have been waiting for a fearless person to help do the ‘splainin’.

Here’s something to consider. I am reminded of the lead-up to the 2016 and 2020 elections. Many of us knew people in our circle who were going to vote for Trump. Yet if they were asked who they would be voting for, whether by kin or by a pollster, would readily deny they were voting for Trump or else would feign the innocuous undecided.

After many months of virtual begging by pundits and professionals in the healthcare field, there are enough non-Trump supporters — as well as many others who are non-political, independent thinkers, and who align themselves either on the left, center, or right end of the political spectrum — who are not at all comfortable with the pace of vaccine development and the newer technological approach. Add in the manipulative/coercive efforts, lottery winnings, and college scholarships that are funded by taxpayers, and you’ve successfully helped put the kibosh on some of the urgency for the millions remaining to get in line.

Many won’t willingly tell you any of this for fear of being attacked.

Take away any more liberties to fly domestically or abroad, to attend public school or public functions (whether they be sporting events or religious ceremonies of death, birth or conversion), and it’s easy to predict the outcome. More ostracizing, mandates and penalties will only help to accelerate the unpalatable separation of our melting pot of diversity.

What is needed is the inoculation against demonization and polarization as we grapple with scary knowns and unknowns.

Author’s note, full disclosure: due to heart and autoimmune conditions I wear a mask but am not a good candidate for the current vaccines. Waiting on the more “conventional/proven technology” as in the Novavax with eager anticipation.

Giselle M. Massi is an Evergreen resident with a daughter who is a physician. Giselle resigned her position as editor of The Denver Post TV Week magazine in 2000 to write books and counsel. She can be reached at