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Vaccines: A Current Lesson from an Old Favorite Show

August 14, 2021

Another Way for week of August 6, 2021

A Current Lesson from an Old Favorite Show

There’s an old Andy Griffith TV show where the county public nurse is trying to get a local farmer, Rafe Hollister, to get a vaccine for tetanus.

Hello? What a great advertisement for today’s current push to get more people vaccinated—some of whom resist as hotly as the farmer in the 1960s era program.

Earlier this year a woman who I know only casually was telling me why she was distrustful of getting a covid shot. I had just received my first shot at that point (early March) but am now fully vaccinated. She is a Christian who feels that the shots are unnecessary and the push to vaccinate as many as possible is somewhat a response to the assault of our senses from the media. Then she asked me why, also as a person of faith, I was getting the shots. (And this is not directed to those who have health issues that would make getting the shots ill-advised or dangerous for them.)

I was not able to verbalize my “why get the shot?” at that point but I have done a lot of thinking since. I don’t like writing about controversial issues but if this saves one life, it will be worth it.

  • To help other people. My upbringing and training in faith has always emphasized doing our best to help others. If my getting a vaccine helps to protect not only myself but others around me or who I come in contact with, then I want to help.
  • Our children live in or near cities with more chances of infection and they’re super cautious. They wouldn’t allow us to be with or visit our grandchildren if we didn’t have the shots. I wouldn’t want shots to tear our family apart.
  • We know that in past pandemics, achieving herd immunity by means of vaccines has helped the whole world.
  • The vaccines have been well tested, especially at this point.
  • I am also returning to wearing masks in stores even though double vaccinated. That makes it look like I’m not double vaccinated but if it protects others and myself in any way, it will be worth the inconvenience or judge-y thoughts of others.
  • Yes, we could still become ill. We know when we drive on our highways that we could be in a serious accident, yet we get on roads and do our best to stay safe and pray for safekeeping for all.

Back to the Andy Griffith show, in case you don’t watch MeTV reruns. The stubborn and determined farmer Rafe comes dangerously close to shooting Barney, the young nurse, and Andy with his shotgun as they all try to convince him to get his tetanus shot.

How does Sheriff Andy Taylor work his magic? When Rafe is jailed for one night for firing at his three farm visitors, Andy serenades him with an old timey ballad about death and how everyone will be so sorry when Rafe’s gone and will look at him in the casket and say what a famous person he was (even though a bit cantankerous). They’ll put up a statue in the town square celebrating his life, and they’ll remember how Rafe’s death inspired everyone else to get a tetanus shot. Rafe tears up and finally consents to the vaccination. Not only that, he’ll talk his neighbors into getting jabbed too.

I was not able to convince my acquaintance to get vaccinated as I listened to her impassioned reasons for not getting the shots. I just wish I had done my homework and would have been able to better explain why I feel it is important.

I wrote earlier about my aunt (long before my time) dying in the flu epidemics of 1918-1919. And now we’re thinking of how the current malady is resurging, just like the pandemic did over 100 years ago. I hope and pray that all of us will do our best to protect other people to help bring the current pandemic under control.  


Here’s the Andy Griffith episode:


Thoughts or stories? Share them here! Or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. I’ve continued wearing my mask, even though I’m fully vaccinated. I think of when seatbelts first became mandatory. Oh the grumbles and complaints from everyone. And no, seatbelts don’t save EVERY life, but they sure have saved countless thousands of lives over the years.

  2. The vaccine is a gift from God.

  3. I don’t understand this vociferous push-back against the vaccine. As far as I can remember, not a soul resisted the Salk polio vaccine when we were in grade-school. Parents and students alike were grateful.

    Like you, my husband and I have been vaccinated, our injections in January and February this year. Yet I still wear a mask as a statement of solidarity in our neighborhood and also protection from possible infection. (Nice pairing with the Andy Griffith show, Melodie!)

    • We don’t have or watch Netflix, etc. and so we often resort to Andy Griffith reruns.
      Thanks for your comment, it is hard to understand the pushback unless you read some of the misinformation and articles going around.
      We went to a local event last evening and out of the hundreds of people we saw, only one other woman had a mask on … it kind of makes you feel lonely but then, everyone is so used to masks now, that it is not something that jumps out at people. Anyway, just kind of interesting.

  4. I wasn’t aware of this episode, but I love The Andy Griffith Show! Thank you so much for educating others and doing your part to keep friends, family, and strangers safe.

  5. Thanks for adding your voice here! I especially love new episodes that I’ve never seen before, or perhaps that I haven’t seen in 40 years or so… ! Thanks for your kind words.

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