Today at RCP: Confessions of a Covid vaccine refusenik

I decided not to write about Covid-19 oppression in third person anymore, so my column at Real Clear Politics today gives my first-person account of why it’s more important to me to maintain medical liberty than to surrender to the state.

Live Free or Die: Why Medical Autonomy Matters

By Frank Miele

Because I have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, I have been labeled everything from an anti-science Luddite to a domestic terrorist. If I lived in almost any other state than Montana, I might be denied basic human services such as health care, refused employment, or told I can’t shop at a store for such fundamental necessities as food.

The powers that be in government, media and medicine have decreed me to be an undesirable and they want to force me and millions like me to be vaccinated against our will. They say that I am a danger to society, never for a minute realizing that they represent a much greater threat to society — the threat of totalitarianism, the state against the individual.

George Orwell might just as well have never written “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The Greatest Generation might as well have never defeated the Nazis. Ronald Reagan may as well have never defeated the Evil Empire of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

What’s the point if I have to surrender my dignity and willpower to the bureaucrats and technocrats and let them stick a needle in my arm to mark me just as a rancher would brand his cattle: owned.

Oh, wait — I’m supposed to surrender for the greater good. I’m supposed to give up my ability to govern my own body because the people who are already vaccinated are still terrified of the virus that the vaccination supposedly protects them against.

Something doesn’t add up, and until I feel comfortable with taking the vaccine, you can count me out. No, I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’ve never had any problem with vaccines before. From the time I was a child growing up in the early 1960s, I understood that vaccines were to protect me — and society — from deadly illnesses.

That’s not an exaggeration. Smallpox was fatal in up to 30% of cases, and even if you survived, you paid a price. One of my teachers bore the awful scars of smallpox on his face, and no one wanted to suffer as he had. Every kid in school also knew that if you had a run-in with a rusty nail, you ran the risk of being infected with tetanus, which went by the even scarier name of lockjaw.

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Then there were German measles, diphtheria and whooping cough. We kids may not have known much about those, but our parents sure did, and they could tell stories about cousins, siblings or friends who had perished from them. I never got measles because I was vaccinated at a young age, but it was a common problem in lower-income families such as mine, and was something you definitely didn’t joke about.

I think vaccines have done the world a world of good. I remember getting my smallpox vaccine and waiting eagerly to get the scar on my arm that my mother’s arm showed off like a badge of courage, but it never appeared for me. Then when the oral polio vaccine was developed, I remember lining up in the gym at North Garnerville Elementary School in New York to get my first dose on a sugar cube. Yum.

So yes, I’m pro-vaccine. I also generally get the flu vaccine every year. I even got a shot last year, although for some peculiar reason, influenza vanished last winter while COVID was enjoying its greatest reign of terror. And naturally, my three children have all been vaccinated against the usual childhood diseases and taken whatever was recommended to keep them safe.

But one thing I never thought of doing was forcing my neighbors to get vaccinated against the flu. Did you know that influenza kills as many as 50,000 Americans a year? That’s approaching the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the entire length of the Vietnam War. On average, flu kills as many Americans every year as car crashes. Yet did anyone — even St. Anthony Fauci — ever dare to suggest that vaccination for flu should be mandatory because it would save lives?

Hell, no, and even though many vaccinations are required of school children for good reasons, we also have allowed religious and medical exemptions for families that needed them. Because we aren’t supposed to be a nation of slaves, but a nation of citizens. If someone had a personal reason why they rejected vaccines, we didn’t put them through an inquisition or try to burn them at the stake of public opinion. This was America — land of the free.

I also never thought of celebrating when a person who opted not to get the flu vaccine died of influenza. But vaccine mandate supporters seem to get giddy when a vaccine refusenik falls ill from COVID and dies on a ventilator or worse. This isn’t science; it’s scientific imperialism — and the CDC centurions are ruthless in their application of power to the masses. Obey or die.

So why might a reasonable person decide not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in such a hysterical climate? Maybe because it’s an experimental and untested drug using a technology (mRNA) that has the power to tamper with the very genetic makeup of the cells in my body. Maybe because I’m more worried about herd instinct than herd immunity. Maybe because I’ve heard wonky scientists gloating about the power they wield over everyday Americans. Maybe because Big Pharma’s getting rich by inventing reasons why you just might need to get a new shot every year. Maybe because I want to decide for myself what’s best for me.

Think of it this way. You are afraid of dying of COVID-19. So am I. But that doesn’t mean I am going to die from COVID. In fact, there is what I would characterize as an acceptably small chance I will die of COVID, and I’m 66 years old, right smack in the realm of the supposedly at-risk elderly population. According to data from the CDC reported at, from Jan. 1, 2020 until Sept. 11, 2021, there were 12,702 U.S. deaths from COVID for my age cohort out of an estimated population of 3,618,069. That’s a death rate of 0.365%.

Meanwhile, 100,449 people my age died during the same period of all causes, suggesting I have about a 12% chance of dying of something this year, a much scarier possibility than dying of COVID-19. Think of it! If I’m going to die this year, I’m 33 times more likely to die of anything else besides COVID. Based on the propaganda we are inundated with every day about the virus, I should be terrified! There are way worse things out there trying to kill me than COVID.

But I’m not terrified, not even slightly, because life is always a risk. I can temper my risks by avoiding downhill skiing, ATVs, booze, surfing, and motorsports. Those are my choices, but heaven forbid I should dictate that you have to avoid those activities because they are not 100% safe. Your behavior is none of my business. I make my choices, and you make yours. Except with COVID.

Then Joe Biden makes my choices, trying to protect me from myself.

But here’s the thing. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever actually be exposed to the coronavirus, and if I do, there’s something like a 99% chance that I — as a generally healthy man with no co-morbidities — will recover.

Now consider the risk of some kind of debilitating side effect from receiving one of the experimental vaccines being pushed by the government. It is much harder to come up with an actual percentage of adverse effects, because there are so many potential side effects and not all of them may be linked with the vaccine yet, especially when they show up weeks or months after the jab. We do, however, have a number of vaccine-related deaths officially reported by the CDC, using data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System:

“More than 396 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through October 4, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 8,390 reports of death (0.0021%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Of course, this means the likelihood of dying from the vaccine is considerably lower than dying from COVID; in fact, if you do the math, it’s about 175 times less likely. That’s a pretty significant difference, even if you throw in the possibility that getting the jab will inflict you with one of the other known possible side effects such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, anaphylaxis, myocarditis, pericarditis, heart failure, thrombosis, brain damage, paralysis, menstrual disorders, and a variety of unexplained pain phenomena. All told, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson says there were more than 400,000 adverse effects recorded by VAERS through July 19 of this year. That number is closing in on 600,000 by now.

But reasonable people can’t ignore the adverse effects of the vaccine, and in a reasonable world, they wouldn’t. Just last week, for instance, Sweden and Denmark halted Moderna vaccinations for those under 30 years of age. Finland did the same for men under 30.

According to Reuters, “The Swedish health agency said it would pause using the shot for people born in 1991 and later as data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults that had been vaccinated. Those conditions involve an inflammation of the heart or its lining. ‘The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna’s vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose,’ the health agency said, adding the risk of being affected was very small.”

Small or not, the risk is real. The question is why you would want to leave the decision up to a health agency whether you should put something in your body that may harm or even kill you. Why not become informed and then make your own decision.

Defenders of Big Pharma like PolitiFactsay there is no evidence that the vaccines have killed anyone, but to believe that you would have to ignore the evidence of not just the VAERS data set, but also the numerous human stories told in news reports and obituaries of perfectly healthy men and women who died suddenly and often horribly after taking one of the vaccines.

Now here’s the point. Knowing all that, if you or anyone else wants to take the COVID vaccine, God bless you, and may all turn out well. But don’t make that decision for me, and don’t turn me into a criminal for making my own decision. I have a conscience, I have a brain, and I have a God. They will inform my decision, along with the science, but the decision should be mine alone. I learned long ago in Psychology 101 that the individual is formed when the infant first cries, “NO,” and for now, that’s what I’m saying to any and all vaccine mandates. I refuse. I’m an individual citizen, not a vassal subject to the whims of my noble superior.

Yes, there is a chance that I will contract COVID and suffer as a result. But there’s no certainty about whether I will ever be exposed to the virus while it is in a dangerous form. If I am, I may get very sick or only slightly sick or have no symptoms at all.

Compare that to the absolute certainty that if I am vaccinated, I am putting myself intentionally at risk of known side effects by putting a vaccine into my arm that I don’t trust. Only a madman would do that, or someone who puts a much higher value on going along with the crowd than I do. I don’t want to die, but that’s not the worst thing that can happen. Being forced to turn my most personal medical decisions over to Joe Biden or Anthony Fauci is an insult to me and to the Founding Fathers who fought to free us from tyranny.

“Live free or die” was their creed, if not yet a formal motto in 1776. Nearly 250 years later, it seems more appropriate than ever.


Heartland Diary is solely operated by Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. My new book is “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends” and is a collection of personal essays that transcend politics. The title says it all. My earlier books in the Heartland Diary series include “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution,” “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” and the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” As an Amazon Associate, I may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases through links on my website. If you enjoy reading my commentary, I hope you will SUBSCRIBE to by leaving your email address on the home page.

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4 Replies to “Today at RCP: Confessions of a Covid vaccine refusenik”

  1. I decided to get the shot at 85 yrs old and into the hospital three times for minor surgery not knowing my room partners or their background. However, my wife feels as you, follows the studies, and makes her own decision. She could have written your article as she feels exactly the same, as do I. I was not going to get it until the hospital stints came along. Three times in 90 days! One of the first reasonable articles about the personal decision to do, or not to do the shot. Most our age remember the shots of our youth as to not take them exposed you to deadly and suffering diseases. That is not the case here unless you are aged with other medical problems. Also, I still doubt if 50,00 pure Chinese flu deaths were recorded. This puts the disappearance of influenza and the Chinese flu deaths under suspicion as to what are the real numbers. I suspect more flu deaths and less Chinese flu deaths.

    A really thoughful and personal explanation of your decision that may help others with their answer, especially when others ask, “Have you had the shot.” RLS

  2. What are your thoughts on Montana”s National Guard members being forced to comply with the federal mandate (not law) even though Guard members are funded partly by State appropriations and subject to state control — and Montana has prohibited by Law discrimination based on vaccination status?

    As of Yesterday they were officially informed that they have 3 days to file a medical or religious waver (not both), would be subject to a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand – aka GOMAR and subsequently terminated in December if that guard member chooses to refuse.

    What happened to “My body, my choice!”

    1. Thanks for the update. I had not heard this before. It follows the logic of the supremacy clause, but it is worth a fight since if upheld it does obviate the “privacy” rights invented by the Supreme Court to justify abortion. No medical privacy for National Guard means no medical privacy for pregnant women.

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