I am living in my 98th year, almost half the time Missouri has been a state.

That gives me a rather historic view on the present claims of those using the excuse of freedom to avoid the use of vaccines and masks.

“It is our right,” they shout, “to be free and do what we want.”

My first car ride was in a Model T Ford. Rules were few, but resisted by some. “Why do we need stop signs? Any fool can see when we stop.”

Top speed laws got a similar response. Turn signals were a waste of money for those who had always used hand signals.

Car license plates and titles were condemned by some as “government intervention and control.” Wearing helmets by motorcycle riders is still a contentious issue.

I am deeply puzzled that rural folks tend to turn their back on the COVID-19 vaccine. Animal agriculture could simply not exist without vaccines.

In 1932, the disease called “Bang’s fever,” or brucellosis, hit our Jersey herd of about 20 milkers.

In two years, we saved one calf; all the others were aborted. Our veterinarian recommended a new vaccine for “Bang’s” and the problem was immediately solved.

Nearly every animal on a modern farm is vaccinated, and some several times. Farmers who do not vaccinate their animals are very unpopular.

A swine producer who does not vaccinate his hogs for cholera is apt to allow it to spread to a neighbor’s hogs. It is not just “my business.”

As human beings on a crowded planet, we must consider the rights of others and do the right thing. Common sense, I call it.

Mel West is a Columbia resident and retired pastor.


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