Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

Bradley Beal is an exceptional basketball player, but the NBA star’s regurgitation of the line of reasoning used by anti-vaxxers was the equivalent of a blown layup.

“I would like an explanation to people with vaccines, why are they still getting COVID?,” Beal asked during a media day press conference Monday.

The unvaccinated Washington guard went on to state that it seemed vaccinations only keep people from going to the hospital.

Yes, Bradley. That’s the point. And it’s a point that’s been painfully proven over and over again. How many people have to die needlessly because of such a line of thinking? It’s not like it’s some huge secret. Pick a hospital anywhere in the country and you’re going to find that most of the COVID patients there are unvaccinated.

It’s kind of like wearing deodorant. When I apply Speed Stick in the morning, I don’t do so because I believe it will keep me from sweating. I use deodorant because I don’t want to stink.

But Beal certainly isn’t the only celebrity whose opinion on vaccines doesn’t pass the smell test.

Rapper Nicki Minaj has Beal beat when it comes to spreading head-scratching, COVID-19 misinformation. The talented performer tweeted Sept. 13 that she wouldn’t be attending the Met Gala because of a vaccination mandate.

When questioned by followers, she went on to add that her cousin’s friend Trinidad became impotent after being vaccinated, and experienced some, how to explain this...swelling in the lower regions as a result of being inoculated.

No, it wasn’t a joke, though her statements were widely rebuked by health professionals.

I was once a guest on Phil Valentine’s radio show. The Nashville-based conservative and I shared a mutual friend, and he wanted to debate me over a column I’d written when I worked in Tennessee. We had a difference of opinion, but he was a nice guy.

I didn’t really think much about Phil after I moved to Indiana until his COVID death captured national headlines. Phil was a vaccination skeptic. After testing positive for the virus he changed his viewpoint, but it was too late.

Not only did Phil die in August, but his viewpoint of vaccinations likely affected the decisions of many people.

Since we first glamorized entertainers and athletes, they’ve shown us at times that their gifts in one arena don’t necessarily translate to other walks of life. This is very much so a human trait.

I’m a journalist. If you’d like to know about AP style, obtaining government records or drinking too much coffee, give me a call. If you’d like advice on the pick-and-roll, making a hit album or producing a popular radio show, you should consult with someone else.

This doesn’t mean we’re not entitled to our opinions. It means there’s a different in opinion and fact. And if the truth matters to you, shouldn’t you ask an expert?

We’ve been blessed during this pandemic to have experts in Southern Indiana who have been transparent and truthful. Our health officers, Dr. Eric Yazel in Clark County and Dr. Tom Harris in Floyd County, stand out as professionals who have leveled with us about the severity of the virus as well as the precautions we should take to protect ourselves.

Our health officers are medical experts. Politicians, for the most part, are not. Musicians, actors, athletes and the editor of your local newspaper are also not medical experts. That’s why we should seek the counsel of those who know what they’re talking about, not just those with a platform.

To those who are lucky enough to have a broad impact, be mindful of what you say and do. There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re not a doctor and people should speak with one if they have questions about vaccinations.

Most of us are sick of talking about the pandemic. I can safely say that I speak for many journalists in stating that we reached pandemic burnout over a year ago. But the past few months should have taught us that if we pump the brakes on battling COVID-19, we will find ourselves back at the start.

I have been vaccinated. I did so after reading about the safety of the vaccinations from accredited sources, speaking with those who had been jabbed and interviewing our health officers.

Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take a celebrity’s word for it. Ask an expert.

Suddeath is the editor of the News and Tribune. He can be reached at 812-206-2130, or by email at daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com.

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