The vaccine and stem cell debate is just the latest twist

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The news could have been worse, but it was bad enough. On Thursday evening, we got the message from my 6-year-old elementary school that he may need to be quarantined due to a possible COVID infection in his first grade class.

The next day, we learn that the quarantine would indeed be in place, and our kiddo, as the schools say these days, should be away for seven to ten days. We had tested it that morning – and it was negative. We also tested his little brother, and let’s just say that swirling a swab through a 3 year old’s nostril is probably not that different – I’m guessing here – from trying to swirl through a bull’s nose. . He was negative too.

Mike Littwin

Fortunately, we had rapid home test kits on hand. Our neighborhood pharmacy limits the sale of kits to four. Joe Biden finally decided to spend a billion dollars to make rapid test kits more readily available. But finding a test is much easier – as I’m sure many of you know – than finding someone willing to take care of a quarantined child while the parents are working.

And later that day when my daughter spoke to my grandson’s teacher at an already scheduled parent-student meeting – the teacher was zooming in from her house – we learned that the teacher and the whole class were quarantined. So it’s back to virtual learning for about a week. It’s so much better for kids, of course, than having to wear a mask.

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Our kid wears a mask. Everyone in their class too. The Austin, Texas School District, like most urban districts in the state, is defy the governor’s order which prohibits schools from imposing masks. My grandson is too young to be vaccinated, although that may change very soon. During this time, children socially distance themselves and eat out whenever possible. Each classroom has a high quality air filtration system.

They do everything right at school, but we can’t know what happens when the kids come home at night. This is the weak link, of course. Even if you can take every precaution you can imagine – and my daughter certainly does – you know that not all parents are so vigilant. And even vigilance, starting with vaccinating parents, is no guarantee against the delta variant, which, while slowing in many places, is still raging as the country’s pandemic death toll exceeds 700. 000.

In Colorado, we are told that COVID cases are no longer on the rise, but they are don’t fall either. In some parts of the state, intensive care beds are becoming increasingly difficult to find. And good luck if you need elective care. And does anyone else remember when Jared Polis said any other movement he makes on COVID – like imposing masks on all school children, including those in Douglas County who are caught in the crossfire between public health experts and county political leaders – would depend on the holding of hospital beds?

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Polis, who is strongly pro-mask, is also very reluctant to mandate – on masks and on vaccines. And he says any decision to mask in Douglas County, regardless of what science says to protect children, is their “prerogative.”

Here is a story I heard from a Denver metro hospital. A woman had to be operated on. Before the surgery, she was asked to sign the standard form allowing a blood transfusion in case, you know, she was bleeding during the operation. But she said she would only accept blood from someone who had not been vaccinated against COVID. The hospital said it had no idea of ​​the immunization status of the blood donors. The patient refused to sign – that is her choice, of course – and luckily the operation went well. Imagine if this was not the case.

Which brings me to the weirdest, saddest, weirdest anti-vax story I’ve heard in a while. Maybe you’ve seen it. Colorado woman refused to be vaccinated before undergo kidney transplant. Her hospital says he won’t do the surgery unless she’s vaccinated because the risk factor is too high. She has stage 5 kidney disease and without a transplant she could very well die. She says she is looking for hospitals in other states.

And why isn’t she getting vaccinated? Because she says her religious beliefs, as a born again Christian, don’t allow it. His reasoning is that the vaccine, like many drugs, had used fetal stem cells in tests during its production. The vaccine does not contain stem cells, but they have been used in the research and development of mRNA vaccines as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The stem cells used are several generations old, reproduced from a line of stem cells taken from an aborted fetus 50 years ago.

Do you know what other drugs use fetal stem cells in production? I didn’t, so I searched for it, and they are used in testing 30 common medications, including these: Acetaminophen, Albuterol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec and Zoloft.

If you are using any of these medicines you are in the same situation as if you were receiving the vaccine. In states where hospital staff must be vaccinated, some hospitals require those claiming a religious exemption to declare that they are also not using drugs on this list.

By the way, the anti-abortion Vatican declares that it is “morally acceptable” to receive vaccines based on stem cells taken from an aborted fetus. Pope Francis, who is fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, called it “suicide” not to be vaccinated. Many others religious leaders also said they had no problem getting the shot and many were actually encouraging him.

But that’s where we are today. Alone 56% of Americans, including children not yet eligible, are fully immunized, in large part because many members of the Republican Party have decided that “freedom” trumps “medical science.” For example, more than 400 colleges and universities require that students and staff be immunized. Almost all of those 400 are in, yes, blue states. These people who give up rather than get vaccinated are making headlines, but mandates work.

Meanwhile, as you’ve no doubt heard, Pfizer has sought FDA approval for a vaccine for people from 5 to 11 years old. If approved, the vaccine should be ready around Halloween. My 6 year old grandson hasn’t chosen a costume yet, but assuming he’s no longer in quarantine, he’ll be lining up for candy and also lining up for his jab.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to be counted. He’s covered Dr. J, four presidential nominations, six national conventions, and countless mind-numbing speeches in the snow of New Hampshire and Iowa.


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