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Mediocre Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was briefly in the news for “explaining” his reasons for jeopardizing his health as well as that of his family, friends, and team by not getting vaccinated. (Although he coyly refused to say directly that he was unvaccinated, he sure acted like it, saying he might want a Plexiglas booth in the locker room to avoid close contact with others, and saying of vaccination “it’s just a very private health decision, and I’m going to keep it private as such.”)

For some perspective, keep in mind that Cousins participates in a sport that has been linked to the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – which can have devastating impacts — for those who play it a long time.

This brings to mind the familiar refrains from unvaccinated folks who try to couch their decision as rational and “science based”: “I’m not sure of how the vaccines work,” “I won’t put anything into my body that I don’t know,” and the ever popular, “I’m doing my own research.” Cousins trotted out his own version of that one.

What is striking about this is that these statements are made by people who are not actually doing any medical research, and likely wouldn’t understand such research if it were explained to them in great detail (like most of us). Who remembers much about high school biology or chemistry, much less understood it at the time? Looking at random posts on the internet by conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers is not research.

And how much do these vigilant researchers know about medicines they do take? How do opioids work? Why do people get addicted to them? How does Tylenol work? What do you have to do, or not do, to make sure it doesn’t destroy your liver? What has their personal research revealed about ingesting:

— Alcohol? Are they deterred from routinely downing six-packs based on their medical research?

— Sugar? It has been linked to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and other life-threatening conditions. Do they avoid foods with excessive amounts of sugar as a result?

— Diet Cokes? Turns out that avoiding sugar by consuming diet sodas (or pop) may not be good for you either. Which sugar substitute do they use? Pick your Poison.

— Butter or butter substitutes? Pick your Poison II.

— Salt? Very commonly used, but too much is certainly not good, especially for those with hypertension.

— Steroids? This is especially relevant to professional athletes who want to make sure they don’t harm themselves with a vaccine.

— Cigarettes? The harm from cigarettes, particularly related to cancers, is well known. Do they forgo smoking as a result?

— A diet of big thick juicy steaks? Hardly heart healthy.

— Bacon? A Carcinogen Gold Medal winner.

— Eggs? Cholesterolapolooza.

— Big Macs? McDonald’s fries? With a side of hardened arteries?

— Hot Dogs at the ballpark – Do they even know what’s in them, much less whether it’s harmful or not?

What do the above have in common? None of them protect you from a deadly, highly infectious disease. Yet it’s a fair bet that those who “don’t want to put anything in their body that may be harmful” indulge in many of these – without even receiving a concomitant benefit of protecting themselves and those they come into contact with from COVID. They simply indulge in it because they like it. But they couldn’t possibly take a COVID vaccine to help the country (or their state or community) quash the resurgence of COVID.

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