A 38-year-old man who needs a kidney transplant to survive refuses the required COVID-19 vaccination. The man stated that he was ‘born free’ and would ‘die free.’ Likewise, a 31-year-old Boston father-of-two with a third on the way needs a new heart. He also refuses the vaccine, indicating that it’s his body and his choice. According to news reports, both men continue to receive medical care but are no longer eligible for transplant surgery. A Go Fund Me campaign was initiated for the first, promoting the decision as a fight against tyranny. As a person who is dying, I feel for both men. As a patient though, when it comes to ‘death,’ there is no ‘born-free,’ ‘die free’ mentality. There’s just death.

If you think about it, there is no thing as ‘born free.’ Most of us are born into a family that lives in some city, that’s in some county, that’s in some state, that’s in some country. Rules exist for everything, from living, to education to death. For example, most schools in the U.S. require a certain amount of vaccinations to walk through the door. Join the military, and you’ll get a new appreciation of vaccinations, some of which you’ve never heard about. But the decision the accepts born free, die free neglects the healthcare clinician, for the clinician’s battle is about patient viability, the crisis of healthcare affordability, and the crisis of resource constraint.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any company that evaluates the decision-making performance of born free, die free based upon any of the metrics they chose. The choice negates all other effort and there will be no reward. When you die, there’s not going to be a ticker-tape parade. No one in your family will get an endorsement deal. A cleaning team sanitizes the room, and another person fills your spot. Your decision will not change minds and you will be part of anything great.

Having lived through the seclusion these past two years, I realize how many recognize the fear of being alone. In today’s COVID-19 world, there’s little time to access the ‘community,’ to acknowledge or approve anything. Can one verifiably ‘smell the roses’ if no one can verify that you’ve verifiably ‘smelled the roses?’ And, it matters if the tree, that being your tree, falls in the forest was ever heard; it falls.

Meat Loaf (the rocker) was an outspoken anti-vaccine mandate and anti-mask proponent. He told a reporter, “If I die, I die, but I’m not going to be controlled.” He fell. Conservative talk show host Dick Farrel wished he had gotten vaccinated. Farrel fell. Conservative Phil Valentine said the same. He fell. Stephen Harmon mocked COVID-19 vaccinations and tweeted: “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator, then keep the Hell out of my ICU room.” Three days later, Harmon fell. To the best of my knowledge, none received any amount of lasting glory.

If there’s a way to look at the COVID vaccinations, I suggest creating an atmosphere for the greater community. Or get the vaccination with respect for the health and welfare of others. If neither of those work for you, view it as a modern-day approach to preserving the lives of many others, including yourself. Health experts state people with cancer, cancer survivors, and those currently on cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy, should get vaccinated. Critical healthcare studies worldwide suggest that the odds of dying from COVID-19 are roughly two times higher for an unvaccinated person with cancer.

Remember, great leaders, celebrate significant accomplishments. Not taking a vaccine that saves one’s life is ignorantly petty. Great leaders don’t celebrate stupid. Neither does God.