Maybe he did it to help the pretty young nurse.
Maybe he did it because he understood the importance of getting the shot.
Knowing Sheriff Andy Taylor, it was probably a bit of both.
In the "The County Nurse" episode of "The Andy Griffith Show," Nurse Mary is trying make sure everyone in the Mayberry area has received their tetanus shot. But she's having trouble with Rafe Hollister, a farmer who refuses to get the shot.
Ol' Rafe argues he ain't never been sick and he ain't never been to a doctor so there's no reason for him to get a shot.
Rafe Hollister is adamant. He don't trust the shot. He ain't going to take the shot. He don't need no doctor. He ain't sick. Why get the shot?
Seems like there are an awful lot of Rafe Hollisters around these days.
While many people are waiting and wanting more COVID-19 vaccines to arrive, there are numerous people who defiantly say they wouldn't get the vaccine even if it was available immediately.
They don't hem and haw about it. They say it as forthrightly as Rafe Hollister.
"I ain't never been jabbed and I ain't fixin' to be," Rafe said. "... For the last time, I ain't takin' no shots."
Of course, it's not so much about not accepting medical attention for these folks. A lot of folks saying they will refuse the vaccine go to doctors for just about everything else. A lot of folks refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are doing so because of a political stance or a fear caused by unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.
Most all of us have been jabbed since we were children, since before we started school, from tetanus shots to the polio vaccine. Imagine if those treatments had been politicized or our folks refused them out of unfounded fears, we'd still have rampant polio, mumps, etc.
Now, Andy had a way of getting a point across. A certain wily eloquence. And with the help of scriptwriters, Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart, Andy did just that.
Andy Taylor: You make good sense.
Rafe Hollister: Huh?
Andy Taylor: Not letting that nurse give you that shot. I can see now where you was 100% right.
Rafe Hollister: You can?
Andy Taylor: Oh, yeah, yeah. I understand now why you're doin' it.
Rafe Hollister: You do?
Andy Taylor: Yeah. If you was to let her give you that shot, see, you'd be passin' up your chance for immortality.
Rafe Hollister: You dang right I would. Wha'z that mean?
Andy Taylor: Immortality? Oh, that means bein' famous like Columbus or George Washington or some of them.
Rafe Hollister: Huh?
Andy Taylor: Oh, well, see, they was famous. They was famous for – for doin' great deeds. And that's what you'll be, too. Yup. ... After you're dead.
Rafe Hollister: After I'm dead?
Andy details what can happen to Rafe and how easily he'll pass by not having the shot. Andy tells Rafe his sad example will inspire everyone else to get their shots. Then Andy imagines Rafe's funeral service, by singing the lonely verses of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Dig My Grave with a Silver Spade."
Rafe Hollister: Andy, I don't wanna die!
Andy Taylor: But, but you'll be a dead hero.
Rafe Hollister: I don't wanna be a dead hero! I wanna be a live me!
Andy Taylor: Well, Rafe, maybe I had you figured wrong. When you refused to take the shot.
Rafe Hollister: Who won't take the shot? I'll take the shot. You go fetch that county nurse.
Andy Taylor: Well, Rafe, are you sure? She's gonna jab ya.
Rafe Hollister: I don't care. My daddy lived to be a hundred, and I don't aim to break the tradition.
Andy Taylor: Well, all right. Too bad, though. You'd a made a fine statue.
Now, there's a bit of humor there. And this humor isn't to make light of the suffering and losses so many of us have endured during the past year of this pandemic.
But the gist of what Andy Taylor told Rafe Hollister is true.
The vaccination can mean the difference between life and death. It can mean the difference between the lives we've been living for the past year and the lives we lived prior to last year.
So, don't refuse the vaccine when it's available and it's time to get it.
Don't be Rafe Hollister; get the vaccine.
Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times.