When the “greatest generation” received their draft notices to go fight fascism in World War II, they didn’t complain about the government demanding they get vaccinated – with many different vaccines.
Before they boarded the boats to take them to the battlefields, they lined up, rolled up their sleeves and received multiple injections in both arms simultaneously.
In order for the Allies to win the war, the soldiers had to be protected from infectious and other diseases. Vaccines were rushed through from the lab to manufacturing in record time.
In a 2019 Navy Times article, the facts are clearly laid out: Before World War II, soldiers died more often of disease than of battle injuries. Improved sanitation reduced disease casualties in World War I, but it could not protect troops from the 1918 influenza pandemic. During the outbreak, flu accounted for roughly half of U.S. military casualties in Europe.
As the Second World War raged in Europe, the U.S. military recognized that infectious disease was as formidable an enemy as any other they would meet on the battlefield. So they forged a new partnership with industry and academia to develop vaccines for the troops.
This partnership generated unprecedented levels of innovation that lasted long after the war was over.
My dad would talk about his war experiences and the story he told first was always about the vaccinations. My dad hated shots - both kinds – the ones from needles and the ones from guns. But like every other soldier, he was prepared to do what it took to make the “world safe for democracy.”
America can only stay strong if its population is healthy. We can never defeat our new enemy – COVID – if we don’t prioritize the common good over individual ideas about personal freedom. Let’s get those shots, let’s win this battle. Vaccination is the only way out.