What is nerve-wracking to me about the debate by the unvaccinated is how spoiled many Americans seem.

At first I thought it was just funny to see Americans being picky and selective about their food, clothes, what stickers they put on their cars or laptops and what colors they paint their bedrooms. I did not grow up privileged, and I remember taking anything that came to me as a lottery: food, water, clothes and medicine.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth.

If you ask me what my favorite color is I won’t have an answer for you. I don’t even know what my zodiac sign is. I never thought about these things so seriously.

If we can learn anything from the unvaccinated in the United States it is that they take things for granted. You live in a country that is begging you to take the vaccine – they will even pay you to do it. While you reject the offer, others are dreaming about it.

Ninety-three million people living in the United States who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine are either hesitant or adamantly refuse to get the vaccine. To me, this is going too far, and I am not going to laugh at this as I did about Americans being picky about their food and clothes. But I am going to tell you that this seems spoiled.

I remember my mother going through the woods and picking plants she believed would heal the pain when I was ill with some of the deadliest infectious diseases such as measles and pneumonia. My mother has never attended school; in fact, she cannot read or write, even in her native language. She did her best to find anything that would lessen the illness and suffering. There was no clinic, hospital or pharmacy.

It is the childhood trauma and the experiences of pain and suffering caused by these infectious diseases that makes me thankful for science and the easy access to hospitals, clinics and medicine. The day I got my second jab of the Pfizer vaccine, I felt like I won a lottery again. I was surprised how easy and smooth the process was. I have stood in long lines when the World Health Organization and UNICEF started serving vaccines to prevent deadly infectious diseases in Somalia. I stood under the baking sun waiting a whole day because my life depended on it.

This August, I celebrate my seventh year of arriving and living in the United States. The two most amazing things I have done in the United States so far was voting for the first time in the 2020 elections after becoming a citizen and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. I don’t know anything more American one could do than these two in the last couple of years.

Those who are adamantly against getting the jabs have betrayed American values and, definitely, their own communities. While it is sad that 93 million have rejected the vaccine, I, as an immigrant who only became a United States citizen a year and a half ago, feel I have fulfilled my duty as an American. I would not hesitate to say I am more American today than those born here, went to school here in this country and still reject the chance to save their communities by taking the jab. I don’t want to hear anyone telling me to go back to my country again.

Everyone in the United States today must feel like they won the lottery to have easy access to vaccines. That is how I still feel as the only one in my family who has received the COVID-19 vaccine because I live in the United States and they don’t. I am thankful for the information on COVID-19 that our country and our state give us daily so that we know what is happening. I am grateful for the tireless efforts our country and our leadership are doing to come up with plans to make us live a normal life again.

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