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Our View: Unvaccinated should thank those allowing them to return to normalcy | COMMENTARY

It is, at this point, a personal choice as to whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It is one’s right to decline to be vaccinated. Some 25% or more seem to be doing so.

The irony is that many of the same people refusing vaccinations were the ones most loudly complaining about having to wear masks and social distance and about restrictions that were placed on businesses and travel.

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So, those of you who are unvaccinated, please take a moment as you walk into stores without a mask, as you sit in a crowded restaurant without fear, as you resume pretty much any activity you enjoyed prior to 2020, please thank those who made it possible: Those who did get vaccinated to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

It doesn’t take a scientist to look at a few numbers and see when — and why — we began to get a handle on COVID-19 in Carroll, in Maryland and in the United States. Here are three of our headlines from April 5 through April 9:

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  • “County sees most weekly cases since January”
  • “COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases among Carroll County Public Schools students increase”
  • “Carrol County reports seventh COVID-19 deaths in eight days”

In early April, Carroll saw three consecutive weeks of well over 200 COVID-19 cases. The only time that had happened here was during the peak of the pandemic in December and January. Carroll Hospital was caring for some 40 patients who had the virus, depending on the day. And people were dying.

Things seemed pretty grim. But there was this: About one-third of Carroll County residents had received at least their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. A month later that number had surpassed 50% with some 42.5% fully vaccinated.

The result? Since 229 COVID-19 cases reported the week of April 7, the weekly totals have dropped in eight of the past nine weeks, plummeting to 21 cases the week of May 23 and 19 the following week. Through Friday of last week, 11.

Similar trends have been seen throughout Maryland and the United States. Even as less-vaccinated countries like India remain in a life-and-death daily struggle with the pandemic, in this country the virus is, at the moment, not nearly the threat it was very recently.

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“At the moment” is the operative phrase. Experts have said from the beginning it would take 70-85% of the population to be fully immunized for us to reach herd immunity. But with vaccination rates having flattened, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever get to those numbers. According to the Carroll County Health Department, about 55% of county residents have received at least one dose and some 49% are fully vaccinated.

“We’re going to work hard this summer to increase these numbers by providing clear information on these vaccines, and convenient ways to get vaccinated,” County Health Officer Ed Singer told us. “The more people in our community who get vaccinated, the less likely we will see case numbers spike again, and have to return to restrictions in the fall. But we’re going to keep watching our data in case we see an impact from new coronavirus variants, increased activities and travel, or other things that might cause cases to rise.”

The health department has done a good job getting shots in arms and is doing its best to get the message out on the importance of getting vaccinated. But, despite the vaccine being widely available and proven safe and effective, many continue to refuse it.

So, to the one-quarter or more of adults who aren’t getting vaccinated, who are leaving it to everyone else to do so, when you run into a vaccinated person, do as you might when you see a veteran. Thank them for keeping you safe and protecting our way of life.

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