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We must do more to promote the COVID vaccine

People just aren’t getting it.
The vaccine.
It is now widely available to just about anyone who wants one, but in Northeast Tennessee, openings at vaccination clinics go unfilled. Meanwhile, there are new cases everyday and new deaths attributed to the virus.
Thursday, Carter County recorded two more COVID-19 deaths, upping the total to 156. There were 25 new cases of COVID in the county Thursday. Reports indicate that less than one-fourth of Carter Countians have received the COVID vaccine. We lag all Northeast Tennessee counties in getting the vaccine.
This means that every Saturday night at the car show, three out of four people could be COVID threats — no vaccine, no face masks, no social distancing. Sunday morning worship services are attended by people who have not received the vaccination and wear no face mask.
The same goes for places we do our shopping — the Wal-Mart, grocery stores, and garden centers.
The threat is still out there; we are not out of the woods yet.
Given the dreadful toll that the coronavirus pandemic has taken — more than 2.5 million people across the world have died, nearly 480,000 of them in the United States — it’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to be immunized. But numerous people still have serious doubts about the vaccination, and they’re taking a wait-and-see approach.
Such an attitude could impair efforts to bring about herd immunity. This occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population is protected against a disease that safeguards the rest of those who haven’t been vaccinated.
There are people who can’t receive the shots. They include infants, whose immune systems are still developing, and individuals who are allergic to certain medications. It’s vital they aren’t exposed to people who are infected because they can’t benefit from the vaccines.
Sadly, there are many who are refusing to be vaccinated, at least for the time being. A recent Associated Press story reveal some very alarming information.
“About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll that experts say is is discouraging news if the U.S. hopes to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the coronavirus. The poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that while 67 percent of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already done so, 15 percent are certain they won’t and 17 percent say probably not,” the article reported. “Many expressed doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The poll suggests that substantial skepticism persists more than three months into a U.S. vaccination drive that has encountered few if any serious side effects. It found that resistance runs higher among younger people, people without college degrees, Black Americans and Republicans.”
It’s understandable that many people have questions about the vaccinations and concerns about possible side effects. But numerous health officials have affirmed the safety of these shots and their effectiveness. The other option is to trust the virus — and that’s a losing bet.
The faster people get their shots, the faster we can all get back to normal.
If you haven’t already got your vaccine, do so. If you have, help spread the gospel — encourage your adult children, show your support for the vaccine effort on social media, help a friend make an appointment or take them to get the shot.
Community leaders need to step forward and promote the vaccine and share their own stories. All should be doing their part to shoot down the false narratives about the vaccine. Surprisingly, one health official told us, there are many people who believe the vaccine will affect fertility or manipulate DNA, that it contains fetal tissue or tracking microchips, or that it received less rigorous scientific testing than other types of vaccines. All are false.
Yes, we Americans are free to decide for ourselves if we want to be immunized. But responsibility always accompanies freedom.
Controlling the coronavirus requires all of us to do our part, and being vaccinated is the best option for everyone eligible. Being good Americans, good Tennesseans, and good Carter Countians means looking out for those around us. So, we encourage you to get the shot, and help protect not only yourself, but your loved ones, friends and neighbors. If you haven’t got the vaccine, it is time.