OPINION: Up for the challenge against COVID

I’m lining up for the COVID-19 booster. I anticipate getting the shot before Thanksgiving, so I’ll be fully vaccinated plus 1 in time to celebrate the great American holiday.

After a year of restrictions, I was eager to start fighting back, so I took a determined approach to getting vaccinated. It can be hard for those who feel that way to understand the resistance.

Americans can accomplish great things together. But we just might not be up for this task.

Just the other day, the Associated Press noted a grim statistic about how this battle against the virus is playing out: “COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March …”

And the end of that sentence deserves a paragraph of its own: “… with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.”

For someone like me, who was in a hurry to get the vaccine, this is like being on the two-yard-line with time running out and electing to turn the ball over on downs.

Maybe that’s a rotten analogy. We were probably nowhere near the two-yard line when it comes to winning against COVID, but what kind of team just gives up without trying when the goal posts are right there?

An editorial from the Dallas Morning News, which ran on these pages recently, got it right about convincing the unvaccinated. The editorial was particularly about radio hosts and others who’d opposed masks and vaccinations and who’d died from COVID.

“Mocking vaccine skeptics who’ve been fed misinformation won’t convince people on the fence to get vaccinated,” said the editorial. Highlighted was Dallas County, which has been “bombarding people” with vaccination opportunities, “but their main hurdle now is resistance to the science and to the messengers.”

Which doesn’t mean that we should stop trying. I’m not a scientist, but a cousin of mine is. Mark Grimes, a cell biologist, recently penned a guest column in the Missoulian that supports vaccine mandates. (https://missoulian.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-require-vaccination-to-restore-freedom/article_2764e035-be7e-58e2-a19a-406facc955ab.html). Montana law now keeps employers from mandating vaccinations.

“The more infectious delta variant has increased hospitalizations and deaths across the world,” he wrote. “The more the virus replicates in people, the greater chance that a new mutant will arise that is even worse than the deadly delta variant, even one that may evade vaccine protection. Unvaccinated people thus put the entire human population at risk, not just themselves.”

This makes sense. We need more scientists to explain more often what the virus is, how it spreads and how it can be stopped (i.e., vaccinations) — if there’s a message worth repeating, that’s it. The battle against the virus is also a battle against misinformation.

Somehow, the specious assertion that it’s un-American to mandate needs to be countered with the message that what’s imperative is to care about fellow Americans and the entire world.

We ought to be up for that challenge. We’ll see whether we are.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.


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