But here we are.
Despite the easy availability of three very effective vaccines, all of which are free of charge, millions of Americans are continuing to resist the jab. Meanwhile, death rates are again on the rise.
As I write, one in every 500 of us has now passed from COVID-19. Also, there are now close to 2,000 reported deaths in the United States every day, and about 114,000 new cases per day.
Looking at these stats from a longer lens, over 692,000 Americans have now passed from the virus—which more than matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the 9/11 attacks combined.
Lastly, pretty much everyone who has died this year was unvaccinated.
Generally speaking, members of The Anti-Vaxx Crusade hang out in one of three circus tents. More often than not, there’s some overlapping.
The largest and loudest group insists that personal freedom should always take priority over public health and safety and the greater good of the community.
They’re the folks we hear the most about because they make great TV sound bites—captured by news crews at rallies, hoisting signs and yelling outside hospitals. Part of their noisy platform, too, is that lawmakers will never be able to force them to inject or ingest anything that they’re not 100 percent sure about.
However, this group ignores the fact that mandated immunizations for children is the law in most states, and has been for decades. They also seem to have forgotten about downing artificial sodas; eating mystery meat in fast food tacos, and purchasing iridescent-colored yogurt for their kids’ lunch boxes.
The second faction is those who insist they have “natural immunity.”
These folks proudly announce that they’ve never had a flu shot and never will. Also, they swear that their super healthy bodies can fight off every infection that will ever come their way since they eat organic; meditate regularly, and take herbal supplements. The owner of an established health food store in my town is a vocal advocate. He’s also a
Finally, there are those who have made the vaccine political.
Most of them voted for Donald Trump, who very early on knew how bad the virus was, but decided to “play it down.” In fact, just before the country entered its initial lockdown, he also said, “One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”
Where I live, a good number of these believers are uber evangelical Christians, who think masks and social distancing are ridiculous because God will always protect them. This group is also comprised of those who insist the virus is a liberal global hoax created to scare us, and that the number of deaths is far less than what we’ve been told.
I remember a different time and a different virus.
One of my earliest memories is standing in line for my first polio shot at the community center in our neighborhood park.
This vaccine really was considered a miracle—so much so that when its approval came down the pike, church bells across the United States pealed in celebration. There was, of course, no social media, Fox News or YouTube influencers with zero scientific background to tell us otherwise.
Today, polio has been eradicated.
It’s hard to say where we stand now.
There was a short window of time, maybe only a month, when all of those who were completely vaccinated took our masks off. The Hubster and I had dinner with another fully jabbed couple at a crowded bar; made travel plans, and thought about taking in a play.
Then a monster wave called the Delta variant arrived.
Despite pummeling India and the UK earlier this spring and summer, this way more contagious and dangerous deviation came as a surprise. Indeed, its advent was especially disconcerting to those of us who were sure the worst of the pandemic was in the rear-view mirror.
Physician J. Stacey Klutts works with the National Director of Pathology and Lab Medicine for the entire Veteran’s Administration, and in a Tampa Bay News article, unpacked Delta this way.
“It has a particular collection of mutations that make it extremely effective in attaching to human cells and gaining entry,” he wrote. “If the original COVID strains were covered in syrup, this variant is covered in ultrafast-drying Gorilla Super Glue, the industrial strength.”
Klutts added that Delta is also problematic for youngsters not yet eligible for the vaccine.
“You spew enough of any human pathogen on someone without immunity,” he said, “and it’s not going to end well.”
However, some hope might be at hand.
Following the science, mammoth corporations including Google, McDonalds and United Airlines are now requiring that employees be vaccinated. The Biden administration has also announced that our more than 1.3 million military troops on active duty must get the shot.
Too, federal employees and contractors doing business with the government have to follow the same protocol. Also, workplaces with 100 workers or more fall under this policy. Finally, the White House is putting pressure on entertainment venues to require patrons to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
Once this multi-tiered approach is complete, another 100 million Americans will have had their shot in the arm. Still, with the central question of exactly how much authority the government has to regulate workplace safety, there’s a long road ahead to that end. Lawsuits have already been filed.
Ultimately, it’s up and each and every one of us to do our best to reduce the level of virus around us.
And, getting the COVID-19 shot is the very best road to that end.
If you haven’t done it yet, get vaccinated. If you’re eligible for a booster shot, get that as well.
Remember, too, to keep clean masks at hand and wear them properly. Also, play outside; continue to social distance,
and wash hands thoroughly. Most of all, heed the good advice from trusted virologists and medical centers,
including Anthony Fauci, Johns Hopkins University and The Mayo Clinic.
All have a front-row seat to what’s coming next.
Until then, know that in time, winter always turns into spring.