Calling the Unvaccinated “Selfish” or “Stupid” is Counterproductive

It may give you a sense of superiority, but it doesn’t get us any closer to herd immunity

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.


hand, holding COVID-19 vaccine shot, puncturing a virus particle
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“It just kills me how many SELFISH people there are in this community!” typed one angry resident in a post on Nextdoor. “Only in this city would people be so STUPID that there’s a path out of the pandemic, and they refuse to take it!”

About 15 commenters echoed the sentiments, calling the people who had not yet got the vaccine “idiots” and saying that they don’t care how many people die as long as they can exercise their “free-dumb” not to get the shot.

I can relate to this in some sense. I’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID for almost three months now, having had two doses of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. Testing has shown it to be safe and effective. Yet only 44.2% of my county has elected to get that vaccine or the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

I wish our vaccination rate was around 70% so we’d be safe from the delta variant. So our kids could go back to school safely. So our immunocompromised residents would be better protected. So my county wouldn’t return to the days of bars being required to close at 10 p.m. and serve food alongside any alcohol purchase.

So, yeah, I wish a lot more people in the community would make the same decision the original poster and the commenters on Nextdoor made.

However, the way they stated their message was unhelpful, counterproductive, and just plain garbage.

Self-congratulatory posts make you feel superior to others who made a different decision — but they don’t help

No person on this earth does anything he or she does not feel to be in their best interest.

Every one of the people in my county has a valid reason for why they haven’t gotten the vaccine. It could be something like, “The vaccines haven’t had formal FDA approval yet.” It could be something as trivial as, “I can’t be bothered to make the trip to the vaccine clinic,” or “I hate needles.”

But, yes, every person has a valid reason — in their own mind.



Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, homelessness, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn