There is a debate over vaccination mandates. Can we really have the debate?

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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine syringes at a community pop-up vaccination center in Valley Stream, NY, February 23, 2021. (Brendan McDermid / Reuters)

I just had my first experience of being banned from YouTube. I had recorded a short video talking about the case of Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, which the University of California put on leave. He is a physician and director of the medical ethics program at UC Irvine. He is one of those people relied on not so long ago and hailed as a hero, who has now chosen to challenge UC’s vaccination mandate. I know a number of people who are reluctant to get vaccinated – because of research on aborted babies, because they had COVID-19, and for other health reasons, like an autoimmune disease. I know there are other people who are on the so called Interwebs watching conspiracy videos – an Uber driver showed me to me recently. The danger in the case of Kheriaty, whom I have interviewed over the years, is that he doesn’t spread false information: he makes an informed choice for himself. His case concerns me because I know other doctors – Catholic fathers in similar positions – who also make informed decisions.

I expressed an opinion: that in our fear of COVID-19, we confuse informed opinions and disinformation. As someone who holds views opposed by those in power in our culture and politics, this is of concern. And I’ll be honest, on a doctor’s recommendation, I was hesitant to get the COVID vaccine. But it’s impossible to operate without him in New York – and because I’m traveling and because I certainly don’t want to infect someone who is vulnerable, I decided to get the vaccine. But shouldn’t we defend the rights of conscience? And shouldn’t we be afraid of opinions? Dr Kheriaty has helped many people in his life, including battling depression, which appears to be a pandemic. YouTube said my short video violates its “medical disinformation policy”. But let me assure you: I am not a doctor and I do not play it on TV, radio or anywhere else. Regardless of your immunization status and opinions, perhaps you would like to pray for Aaron Kheriaty and his family and others who find themselves in similar positions – truly believing they are taking a necessary position in this term of office?

This is based on a commentary that aired on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, Channel 129 on Thursday.

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