Compared to most of the past year, the last couple months have been like a breath of fresh air. Masks mandates have been lifted, stores and restaurants have reopened, and things have returned pretty much to normal, at least here in Ohio. But if you follow the news at all, you know that’s not the case everywhere, and it may not be the case here for long.
COVID-19 has not went anywhere. Its Delta variant is bringing a rise in the number of cases and a return to many of the mandates in parts of the United States where it seems they just disappeared.
Because only around 30 percent of Highland County’s population has received the first shot, my guess is that it is only a matter of time before we are wearing masks again, and more people are getting sick and dying.
That’s frustrating, especially for those of us who are fully vaccinated, because as Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner told The Times-Gazette last week: “We have the solution in our hands, but we won’t put it in our arms.”
I have many friends, even family members, who have not been vaccinated, and while I understand that it is their choice to get vaccinated or not, I have tell you I just don’t understand the mentality of those who refuse a simple shot.
Some are young and believe they will not feel the full the impact if they contract the virus. Some say they are scared of vaccine because it has not been researched enough. Others seem to flat out refuse getting it only because they do not want someone telling them what to put in their body.
I understand all that to some degree. But this pandemic is like nothing most of us have seen in our lifetimes. It’s not a hoax. People are dying from the virus all around the globe. And it is going to take a willingness by the vast majority to fight back — or in other words get vaccinated — if we are ever going to be mostly rid of the virus.
“Unlike during our largest peak in cases back in the late fall and winter of 2020, each person in our community individually has the ability to influence how many future hospitalizations and deaths occur in Highland County,” Warner said. “Our unvaccinated populations across the United States are making up the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases, and there is nothing in place in Highland County that would prevent a widespread outbreak from occurring here. If we fail to increase our vaccination rates, then we have to be prepared to accept the consequences for our own collective inaction.”
I had someone I have known a long time tell me just this week that they heard that people who have been vaccinated are going to regret it in the long run. I did not respond to the comment. But what I should have said is to quit listening to social media nonsense and starting listening to people like Mr. Warner who know what they’re talking about.
“The best tool we have available to us right now is vaccination. It is a safe and proven way to reduce COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization and death, even against the new variants,” Warner said. “The question that I would like to ask our unvaccinated community is this: How many additional Highland County COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are you willing to accept? By choosing not to be vaccinated, we are choosing to accept more disease and death in our community…”
In my opinion, that’s what it all comes down to. Are you willing to accept more disease and death in our community, or are you willing to do your small part and get a shot?
It seems like a pretty simple choice to me.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.