It’s Tuesday, which means the anonymous mailbag is here to solve all your life’s problems. But here’s the deal, we can only answer the questions you ask!
So send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
Okay, here we go:
“My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at 55 years old. She is doing chemo so she has a compromised immune system. She has begged me to get the vaccine and thrown a guilt trip at me. I do not want to get it. But I also love my mom. I just believe this vaccine is experimental and there have been too many public examples of vaccinated people still getting COVID. I am under 30 (barely) and in good shape. I believe I had it in November 2019 but have not been tested for antibodies. I’m sure you would advise I get tested for antibodies, what would you do in the scenario I DO have antibodies? And what would you do if I don’t?”
Leaving aside your particular situation, let’s just strip away everything else and leave the question this way: your mom has breast cancer, is currently receiving chemo and is begging you to do something that requires minimal effort from you and offers virtually zero real risk or negative consequences. Should you do that thing?
My answer would be yes.
I think you should do whatever you can to help your mom during this extremely difficult period of her life. We don’t even need to consider COVID here. (Although it’s important to note that your risk from the vaccine, given you are young and healthy, is almost nonexistent. Just like your risk from COVID, given you’re young and healthy, is also almost nonexistent. But we don’t even need to consider COVID here to answer your question. You should do what your mom asks.)
Plus, I think she’s actually making good sense here. You should be hyper vigilant when it comes to exposing her to any transmissible illness: COVID, the flu, the common cold, anything that might make her sick while she has a suppressed immune system and is on chemo fighting to beat cancer.
So why wouldn’t you do whatever you can to help her win this battle?
This is a total no brainer.
It’s also worth noting that you’re almost thirty and, I’m assuming, living at home. If you are, you probably aren’t paying much, if any, substantial rent. So your mom would be well within her rights to make many requests of you, EVEN IF HER LIFE WEREN’T AT RISK FROM CANCER RIGHT NOW.
She could want you to cut the grass every week, take out the trash, clean the entire house, run errands for her, all of these would be legitimate things she could ask of you in exchange for living at her home. And none of these involve COVID vaccines or cancer at all. When you are living in someone else’s home and you’re an adult, basic decency requires you to attempt to make something in your host’s life easier than it otherwise would be.
Many questions can be solved by simply asking the question: what would a decent human being do in this scenario? A decent human being would get vaccinated to make his mom feel better — and to be safer — here. I don’t see this as a particularly difficult question at all.
Finally, I’d encourage everyone out there to get antibody tested if you think you’ve had COVID. It costs almost nothing and will help you make better decisions when it comes to your own personal health.
I don’t know why there isn’t more discussion about the massive numbers of people, like me, who have had COVID, recovered from it, and still have COVID antibodies. There are potentially one hundred million of us in the United States alone. That’s a massive part of the quest for herd immunity. Right now, the only thing being tracked is vaccinations. But the number we really need to know is the number of vaccinations combined with the number of people who already had COVID. It seems to me that, for those over the age of eighteen, we should be well in excess of 75 to 80% of the adult population who have either had COVID or gotten a vaccine. (Many people, of course, will have done both, so even if we knew the total number of people who have done both, we can’t just count both groups because there would be an overlap.)
But, seriously, go get the vaccine.
And wish your mom well in her battle on behalf of the OutKick anonymous mailbag crew.
“We were at our local pool over the weekend and had a table next to a family with three kids. I would say that both parents were only slightly overweight, but all three kids (around ages 5-10) were obese. During the 90 minutes we were there, I saw one kid eat two slices of pizza, multiple chicken fingers, a popsicle, and a large soda. There are four types of child abuse that are illegal in most states: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Some of those are obviously more difficult to prove than others. But shouldn’t we add a new category called Nutritional Abuse? Best of all, it’s very easy to prove just by looking at the kid. These poor young kids don’t know what’s good for them and what’s not. Most kids, if given lots of candy, ice cream, soda, etc will happily keep eating it. The actions by these parents are abusive. Not only does it cause poor health, but it will also lead to being made fun of at school. Worst of all, these kids will likely grow up to be obese and then be a drain on our healthcare system. Why should my tax dollars be used for such a treatable issue?”
Man, I can’t imagine being at a pool with my kids — a place where you should be relaxing and having a good time — and becoming obsessed with what another family was feeding their kids to such an extent that I was essentially calculating how many total calories were being consumed by their family.
Look, the world is imperfect. When you have an opportunity to dial out and experience good times with your kids, do it. One of the rules I’ve made for myself in the past year is to abandon my phone for a couple of hours every night. Just to be focused on the present moment with my kids.
My job isn’t ending, but soon my kids aren’t going to want to spend as much time with us as they do now. I can already see it with my soon-to-be 14-year-old. He’d often rather do his own thing than go out for ice cream with the family, for instance.
Soon that’s going to be the case with all our kids, and I already know I’m going to be wishing I’d spent even more time with my kids when they were young. (And, for the record, I feel like I’ve spent more time with my kids than most dads and I still wish I’d spent more.)
Okay, now on to your question. Do I believe many parents do a poor job managing the nutritional intake of their children? Yes. Do many of these parental decisions also lead to obesity? Yes. But the good thing about being a kid who grows into an adult is you can eventually start to make your own choices about what you eat.
I’ll give you a personal example from my own life. We ate a ton of fast food when I was growing up. My mom and dad both worked, and my sister and I went to day care after elementary school until I was in the fifth grade. (In the fifth grade I started taking the bus and then walking home to an empty house where I’d stay by myself for a couple of hours. Do kids still do this? I feel like that would be nearly child abuse now.) So my mom picked up fast food for us to eat for dinner lots of the time. Now we’re talking about the 1980s here — remember women slathered themselves in baby oil to lay out at the beach or pool and tanning beds were common to ensure they got as deep of a tan as possible too — so it wasn’t like all health decisions were great, but I was a chubby kid, partly as a result of what we ate. (My sister was chubby too.)
When we both hit adolescence, we lost our chubbiness and haven’t been fat for our adult lives. Why do I bring this up? Because many parents pick fast food, which tends to be unhealthy, not because they are intentionally making poor choices for their children, but because it’s easy to do and the kids like it. When you are working full time, like my mom and dad were, it’s easier to pick up food like this than it is to prepare a meal after an entire day’s work.
Plus, let’s be honest, kids like fast food too, so you avoid the battle over what kids are going to eat for dinner. That’s because unhealthy food tastes better, generally speaking, than healthy food. So I see a pretty big difference between food choice as child abuse, which you’re arguing, and the other forms of child abuse you’re citing above.
Having said all of that, there’s no doubt that fear of “fat shaming” and the entire “body positivity” movement has led us to a place where many are fearful of saying something direct and true: Being fat is bad for you.
It just is.
The fatter you are, the worse it is for your health.
The No. 1 preventable cost when it comes to American healthcare is obesity. Heck, instead of mandating gyms shut down and all parks be closed as a defense against COVID, we should have mandated exercise instead of masks. Because aside from age, obesity was the No. 1 factor that helped to determine whether people would have severe health consequences if they got COVID.
But do you really want the government investigating parents for what they are feeding their kids? The answer here is, as with most things in life, personal responsibility. We all have to do a better job making the best decisions in our own lives, both in terms of our health and otherwise.
In your particular situation, it sounds like the food choices of other parents impacted your ability to enjoy your day at the pool with your family. And that sucks.
“I’m going to be a junior in high school this coming year, I have not been vaccinated. The rule at our school is, if you’re not vaccinated you have to wear a mask at all times. Should I just get vaccinated? My parents already are, and I feel like I’m getting pressured to get it. They are letting me make my own decision, what would you do?”
I’m going to answer this as if I were in high school.
Do you know what I cared about when I was in high school? Girls, sports, my friends and my grades. That was basically my entire life. I’m guessing that’s your entire life too.
First, as a preliminary, and I’m guessing you already know this, but as a healthy 17-year-old, you have almost zero risk from COVID. So the vaccine isn’t offering you much protection at all. And it also isn’t protecting anyone else very much since kids have been shown to be very low transmitters of the virus.
But the question you’re facing is this: do you want to be one of the only kids in your high school wearing a mask? I’m pretty sure the answer is no. And I’m betting the primary reason you’re thinking this is because you have rightly surmised there aren’t very many girls your age thinking, “You know who I really want to bang? The only guy wearing the mask in Algebra 2. He’s so hot.”
That’s especially true because far from being a rebel, many kids in your high school would likely attribute your mask wearing to a parental decision as opposed to your own decision. And, again, masks don’t look cool, so this isn’t the equivalent of a hot girl showing up to defy the school dress code in a skirt that’s too short. You look dorkier in a mask than you would without a mask.
What your school is trying to do is use peer pressure to pressure you into getting the vaccine. Because the school knows that most teenagers don’t feel strongly enough about the vaccines to put up with the inconvenience of wearing a mask or the potential ridicule from other classmates over having to wear the mask and standing out in the classroom as a result.
If I were given the choice in high school between wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, I would have picked the option that lets me not wear a mask. (Are they going to make you wear masks in sporting competitions too? That would have pushed me even more towards getting the vaccine as well.)
Unfortunately you’re learning a fairly important lesson at an early age: many rules make no sense. The less sense a rule makes, the harder people who lack the ability to see nuance cling to the importance of that rule.
As we said above, your risk from COVID is nearly zero. Finding things we all do with zero risk is nearly impossible. That’s because risk is a part of life. Being able to adequately assess risk used to be one significant way we entered adulthood since, in theory, adults should be better at reasoning risk than children. If we all insisted on risk factors of zero, we’d never do anything.
For instance, as a 17-year-old, you’re under more risk of death driving to and from school. You are under more risk of being murdered, of drowning, of any number of highly improbable potential ways you could die than you are from COVID. You’d never leave your house if a risk factor of zero was the goal.
If I were you, I’d go check and see if I have COVID antibodies. If you do, I’d argue that having COVID antibodies should eliminate you from the need to wear a mask as well. That’s a logical argument you could make since the reason for not needing to wear a mask is predicated on your having COVID antibodies, the same thing the vaccine will give you. There is no practical difference between natural immunity and vaccine immunity, except that natural immunity is likely to provide more long lasting antibody protections than vaccination is.
But I doubt you’ll win that argument because the people applying these COVID rules have lost all ability to comprehend facts and nuance such as these. They are insistent on hard and fast rules because they want the illusion of certainty.
If I’d been given a choice between masking or not masking, I would have gotten the vaccine.
One bit of additional information here: I do give credit to this school for at least being willing to abandon masks in high schools and to let kids and their parents make a “choice.” Many kids are going to be forced to wear masks all year, no matter what their vaccination status is. This is all nonsense and madness.
The data is quite clear: there’s no health reason at all for kids of any age to be wearing masks this school year.
Good luck with your choice.
As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com, anonymity guaranteed.