Flat Stanley, a Vaccine Protest, and a Scary New Variant

Flat Stanley, a Vaccine Protest, and a Scary New Variant

You’ve likely heard of the travels of Flat Stanley, but have you heard of Flatrick Burke?

Back in the Before Times when I taught on campus, I caught sight of this stealthy vehicle (see photo) traveling the streets of Denton.

Apparently, it’s driven by a well-known local, but it was my first sighting. 

Last summer, the owner of this vehicle was issued a citation for criminal trespass after defacing the local Walmart. 

His graffiti? “COVID hoax”.

Color me shocked. 

Patrick Burke is also an evolution and climate-change denier (again, shocker), but a flat earth is his primary bandwagon of choice. His house, just a half-mile from the UNT campus, continues the theme: Gravity is not real. The earth is motionless. 

Burke is a college graduate, employed, and a self-described “regular guy.”

Walmart graffiti notwithstanding, Patrick (or “Flatrick” as he is lovingly known) is not really harming anyone. No one is going to force him to buy a globe.

Now, imagine that Patrick or one of his fellow flat-earthers teaches world geography in the local middle school. If he insists on advocating for a flat earth, he will be invited to take his teaching skills elsewhere. 

Recently, employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital system marched carrying protest signs blazoned with “No Forced Vaccines” and “Stop Medical Tyranny”. 

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by 117 hospital employees who were suspended for refusing a COVID vaccine.

This lawsuit was the first of its kind and is expected to set a precedent. It is important to note that the hospital system exempted many employees from the requirement: 285 for religious or medical reasons and 332 others for pregnancy. 

Here’s U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, in a statement referring to the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit:

“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.”

In the Houston Methodist system, patient safety is a priority. If it is not the priority of an employee, the employee is invited to take their skills elsewhere.

And finally, if you or someone you know needs more convincing about vaccination, let me introduce you to…

the Delta variant.

The Delta variant currently accounts for about 6% of COVID infections, but at the rate it is spreading, it will be the dominant strain in the United States by August. 

The Delta variant is really good at three things: rate of contagion, potential for high mortality, and ability to evade immunity. 

We need to pay attention.

A single dose of one of the mRNA vaccines is only 33 percent effective against Delta. BUT – the recommended two doses of an mRNA vaccine are 90-95% effective.

Now some really scary news… early lab evidence shows that Delta evades “natural” immunity from a prior COVID infection. We are waiting on more studies in actual humans to confirm this finding. 

Bottom line – vaccination protects and is likely more protective than immunity from an infection.

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