Fool Me Once

Dopesick Cast

There is a terrific new TV series on Hulu right now called DOPESICK. It’s the story of the OxyContin plague that still continues to plague the American public. Told from many viewpoints the audience gets to see the machinations of the manufacturer Purdue Pharmaceutical and it’s owners the Sackler family as they scurry to create “the greatest drug ever”, the effects on one particular woman who becomes addicted, the Justice Department’s two hotshot prosecutors who go after the manufacturer, a DEA agent, the sales reps for Purdue and one coal country doctor who is initially hesitant about the drug then becomes a spokesperson for it before he realizes how devastating and deadly the drug truly is. The doctor is played by Michael Keaton and for the first time in many years I was able to watch a performance by him and not half expect to hear him say “I’m Batman”.

Also Richard Sackler, the head of Purdue Pharma is played by Michael Stuhlberg who is the greatest actor on the planet today and if you don’t know who he is that just proves how great an actor he is. He’s played real life characters before, from Lew Wasserman to Edward G. Robinson to Arnold Rothstein to Richard Clarke. He brings a bit of each one to this performance.

OK, so that’s enough of an ad for Hulu. Let’s talk COVID vaccine hesitancy.

It’s been bandied about in the media that African Americans have been reluctant to vaccinate because of doubts and worries about the vaccine. Many in the community see it as just another example of the government using them as human guinea pigs. They have a justifiable right to that fear, inspired in no short part by the Tuskegee Experiments of the mid to late 20th century where black men were unknowingly inoculated with syphilis to see how the disease progresses in the human body. I understand that fear, especially when it’s then boosted by the anti-vaxxer crowd.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

What I’ve had a hard time understanding is lower class and poor whites who are against the vaccine. Where did that come from? Yeah I know, Faux News and Repugnicant politicians are the easy ones to blame, especially when they sow doubt in the general population as to the vaccine’s efficacy and safety while being first in line to get the jab. But lower class and poor people are the ones least able to afford getting sick in general and specifically in the case of COVID. They should have been at the front of the line demanding access to a FREE ounce of prevention. Instead they were willing to take their chances with non-vaccination and the possibility of getting a preventable deadly disease.

And here’s where we get back to Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers, and OxyContin.

I’m willing to bet that a lot of those lower class and poor whites who are against the vaccine don’t have any friends or family who had to fight for their lives because of COVID. In fact how many stories have there been about vaccine hesitant families who only got the jab AFTER someone in the family got sick and/or died of COVID? That story has become a staple of newscasts over the last nine months.

But then again, how many of those same people knew someone who was addicted to and/or died from OxyContin?

The same OxyContin that the pharma company said was a miracle cure. The same OxyContin that the FDA (the government) said was perfectly safe. The same OxyContin that their doctor said was non-addictive (it said so right there on the label). The same OxyContin that turned hardworking average folks into drug addled zombies willing to steal, prostitute, or even murder in order to get their fix of it.

Now here comes a pharma company, the government, and their doctors telling them here’s a vaccine that will be a miracle savior, that it is perfectly safe, and that it will have no ill effects on them.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…you can’t fool me again.

This is not to excuse them, but rather to help us understand where they are coming from and why they are so hesitant. If you can see another person’s point of view you can appreciate why they feel the way they do. Maybe it’s my salesman’s training kicking in but the best way to close the sale is to take what the customer has told you about themselves and work within those parameters. If someone is vaccine hesitant ask them if they had any direct or even indirect contact with OxyContin and if so then acknowledge the pain and fear they have of it and show that the COVID vaccine isn’t the same thing. Don’t be dismissive of their lived experience. Don’t put them down for being “ignorant” or “biased”. Listen to what they are saying when they tell you “I’ve been down this road before”.

I’ll admit I was one of those damning the “ignorant masses” for their refusal to get the vaccine. I got all caught up in my own personal experience with vaccines and it blinded me to the plight of others. I’m not going to say the Oxy epidemic is the only reason for vaccine hesitancy, but I do feel we need to acknowledge it as a contributing factor. The best way for that to happen is for someone (Dr. Fauci, President Biden, Randy Travis?) to directly address this point. Get up on television and say “Look I know you got burned on OxyContin, but this vaccine isn’t OxyContin and it’s not going to turn you into addicts. It’s going to save your lives and the lives of those you love.”

And if it were me, I’d go one step further and say “I wish we could undo all the damage that Purdue Pharmaceutical and the Sackler family did to this country. They were as evil a drug cartel as anything Pablo Escobar could have created. If I had a time machine I’d go back and burn down the lab that developed OxyContin. But don’t let your experience with a bad drug cloud your judgement of a good vaccine. Use the common sense you all have and together we’ll all get through this”.

And then we’d all sit down and watch DOPESICK together.

Shapiro Out