Cats! Dogs! Humans? The Great Vaccine Conundrum

I recently adopted two cats from a woman who is moving out of state. Before she transferred their guardianship to me, she took them to the vet for full blood work and vaccine updates. To my amazement, when she came over, she still hadn’t been vaccinated for COVID19. I could hardly hide my surprise, as I mentioned that she wasn’t permitted to visit again because of her vaccine status. I must keep my ten-year old safe. We all make choices. What Americans base them on is what most concerns me today.

close up photo of a hand holding three white kittens
Photo by Peng Louis on

Why do rational adults take their cats and dogs to the vet to get vaccinated and yet fail to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Worse, some of these same adults believe that vaccines in general are dangerous and undesirable. They would presumably bring back measles (as has been done), polio and other such cruel forms of death by disease for mere folly of a controversial stance. I’ve always had a feeling that Americans care more about their pets than they do Black people or Mexicans, the subhumans who are highly suspect when not actively engaged in menial labor for their White counterparts, but the shocking truth is that Americans–all of us, for none of us can escape internalizing racism, are racist; racism must be excavated from the hearts and souls of Americans, who care more about cats and dogs than other human beings, including themselves, other white people and more than even their family members.

For Cats: Vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.”

For Dogs: Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.”

tri color beagle and west highland white terrier puppies playing on lawn grass
Photo by Hilary Halliwell on

Animal activity, which occurs without praxis, is not creative; people’s transforming activity is.

Paulo Freire

At root cause appears to be a myth about American bootstrap ingenuity (read historically in colonial terms as free/nearly-free black labor) that is projected as Libertarianism, Religious Freedom and the all-too repulsive, lack of evidence. As exhausting as these arguments are, they are shallow and reveal just how willful Americans are about spouting narratives and leading the charge of ignorant insurrectionists into the big house of intellectual reason. These Americans, just like the MAGA and Q-Anon adherents, think that if you believe something and say it out loud, it must be true. Not so, as we witness daily with our new President Biden. Another way to look at this is through the lens of critical pedagogy. This type of belief lands firmly in the category Magical thinking, labeled by Paulo Freire to define adults who defer personal power, agency, and education to another source instead of seeking answers. These magical thinkers leave off thinking and reflecting in favor of platitudes and talking points from celebrity figures. Some of these same folks believe in Q—an unseen and unknown individual making strange predictions for far too many willfully ignorant people. As an immigrant woman from a third-world county (Yep, I said that) it’s laughable that an anonymous nut can tell me what to think about anything. That’s the point of education—to think for myself. That must be true, because that is the basis for the large disparities in education for Black and Native Americans in this country. Sadly, for white people, too, who until recently made up the largest portion of under-educated and impoverished people in the land.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

Because Love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others.

Paulo Freire

For the record, I am pleased that scientists all over the planet collaborated to find a vaccine for Coronavirus Disease-2019. It means that intelligent people put aside the potential national and individual accolades in favor of humankind. Theirs is an act of love, a quest for our collective liberation. It also means that scientist around the world didn’t just start learning about vaccines in early 2020, as is often implied when people suggest that the found a solution was done too quickly. That’s like saying that because electric cars don’t use gas, they need to reinvent the wheel, too. I hate to say it, but that’s just stupid. Of course we can borrow from and build upon prior knowledge of viruses, including the typical virus vaccines used to treat one of America’s favorites pets, the domesticated feline. Why wouldn’t we?

Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world to transform it.

Paolo Freire
delighted friends having lunch in cafe
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

So, the real problem is that America is just too rich to believe in science. Even poor Americans think they don’t need basic science and healthcare to survive. Never mind that addiction rates soared in recent years—apparently the abhorrence of science does not extend to recreational and sophisticated pharmaceuticals. We’re so rich (How rich are we?) that the wealthy of our nation now believe that conviction, faith, and the exercise personal liberty will outfox science. Seems we’re more afraid of rabies than COVID19. Nice idea. Too bad it’s not working, as we’re seeing more evidence that libertarian principles are not a preventative for spreading disease. But these inconvenient arguments are costing lives and setting back businesses. My concern is that not enough Americans care about other human beings. Americans place a higher value on their pets over their neighbors and friends. Well, I’ll take my genetic training over intubation any day. I plan to live longer than my cat if I can help it.



  1. Great prose! However I am not a cat or dog and “We The People” should have the right to question what is in these shots and decide. If they are effective – why is there concern about the non vaccinated? Asking for a friend.

    1. Thank you, Dovanna. Hmm…Why does your friend not talk to me directly? I don’t bite. Yes, we all do have the right to choose–100-percent agree. I just wish we’d choose to protect ourselves. I get the experimental factor for a lot of people on the Covid vaccine, but that doesn’t explain the other excuses. We don’t live in a bubble and there are quite a lot of us on the planet. Disease is the one thing we can try to cut down. Mostly I find that where I live, the people who don’t want to vaccinate are also the ones who don’t want to respect me by wearing a mask or keeping a distance. Personally, I don’t mostly care whether my neighbor gets the vaccine, (even though I think they’re generally good for humans and other creatures) but I see there’s a level of suffering that’s largely preventable–I simply want not to experience Covid. I also see that many of the same folks run to the doctor for everything else they need and this one stands out as a great hypocrisy. We’ve been putting our tetas in iron irradiators for decades now, and that doesn’t seem to make most of the same people blink. Any way, I’m guessing that I didn’t convince you, but I love the discourse almost as much as I love you.

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