I’m Pro-Vaccine, But If We Follow The Science We Wouldn’t Be Allowing Olympic Track Stars Like Cole Hocker To Be Vaccinated

By Robert Johnson
July 21, 2021

Earlier this week it came out that American mile phenom and 2020 US Olympic track & field team member Cole Hocker hasn’t been vaccinated yet for COVID-19. And it didn’t take long for the vitriol to pour in. On the very first page of the now 13+ page discussion thread about Hocker’s vaccination status on our mesageboard, Hocker was called “selfish,” an “idiot,” a “dumbass,” and it was even asserted this was proof that America is the dumbest country on the planet.

While I’m very much pro-vaccine — I got vaccinated on the very first day I could find an appointment — the critics of Hocker really need to stop being so smug and self-assured. Look, I get it. I understand why their argument — I took the vaccine, I’m safe, I’m following the science, I’m helping the world — is a powerful one as it plays into the human desire to be in control and have agency over their own lives, lowers their fears about eventual death, and makes them feel good about themselves.

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The reality in the Hocker situation is actually just the opposite. If you follow the science, the data is clear: we should not be allowing Cole Hocker and millions of other super healthy young people to get vaccinated right now.

Why? There are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of senior citizens across the globe who have yet to be vaccinated. And COVID-19 mainly kills senior citizens.

In the US, the risk of death from COVID-19, as compared to the 18 to 29 age bracket, is 95 times higher for someone in the 65 to 74 age bracket, 230 times higher for the 75 to 84 age bracket and 600 times higher for someone 85+. As of July 7, COVID-19 had killed 473,845 Americans over the age of 65 and just 2,755 under the age of 30.

Chart via CDC

The reality is, an American under the age of 30 like Cole Hocker is nearly three times as likely to die in a car accident as he is to die of COVID-19 (7,298 Americans under the age of 30 died in car accidents in 2019).

Those stats prove that it’s actually quite selfish and anti-scientific for people to be demanding that people like Cole Hocker be vaccinated right now. The selfless act would be if we, as Americans, called on all young adults to not take the vaccine and instead redirect that supply of the vaccine so the world’s most vulnerable could be vaccinated first.

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Ok, let’s ignore the science/data pointed out above and be typical Americans and only focus on ourselves and say we don’t care about the rest of the world. Let’s say you are someone demanding Hocker be vaccinated this year simply so he can slow the spread of the disease in the US, even though he almost certainly has COVID antibodies given that David Woods reported that Hocker had COVID earlier this year. If Hocker was going to be vaccinated this year, when should he have done it?

This kind of thing needs to be planned out when you are trying to make an Olympic team. The state of Oregon wasn’t initially going to allow people his age to be vaccinated until May 1. That was eventually moved up to April 19.

Still, with that late of a start date, there was no good time for him to get two vaccine shots if he wanted them. Please don’t tell me you expect him to get two vaccine shots in the middle of the key part of the season for a disease that isn’t dangerous to him. Remember, at the time he had just gotten over COVID. Pac-12s was May 14-16, NCAA regionals were May 26-29, NCAAs were June 9-12, and the Olympic Trials were June 18-27. If I was Hocker’s coach or doctor, there is no way in good conscience I’d recommend getting vaccinated within two weeks of any of those meets as you don’t know what type of reactions he’s going to have (other pro runners said it disrupted their training) and the risk of missing a half week or more of training isn’t worth it.

Maybe he could have done it after the Olympic Trials, but shipping his vaccine to a senior citizen in Mexico would be a lot more effective at saving lives.


Talk about Hocker and the vaccine on our messageboard:


Robert Johnson is the co-founder of LetsRun.com. Email him or call him (844-LETSRUN ext 3) with your comments.

PS. After publication, I changed one word in the article. Where it says, “We should not be allowing Cole Hocker and millions of other super healthy young people to get vaccinated right now,” it initially said “we should not be encouraging Cole Hocker”. The change was also made in the title.

Many people seem hung up on the fact that if Hocker turns down a vaccine that it’s unlikely to make it to a third-world country with the way things are currently set up. I agree that’s probably true. My main point though is that the largely rich, white woke twitter mob that is attacking Hocker should save that passion for the governments and Big Pharma. Instead of attacking Hocker, direct that same ire at the govts and big Pharma companies until they allow the hundreds of millions of largely poor black and brown seniors of the world to be vaccinated.

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