President Joe Biden is looking at the Fourth of July as a goal for opening up society, at least for friends and family gatherings. When he made that proclamation two months ago, it sounded promising and gave us something to look forward to. It was also just before vaccines started getting easier to obtain.
The Fourth of July, or more likely Labor Day, may be a reality for us to get together, or even for some of us remote workers to get back to the office.
We can only hope. But we need more than hope to make that happen. Everyone needs to get vaccinated, and it appears easier than ever to get an appointment for the vaccine.
As a country, we have reached 20% of our population fully vaccinated. As a state, 79 of 102 Illinois counties have reached 20% of the population fully vaccinated (24.2% of all state residents are fully vaccinated). Some 47% of Illinois residents age 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.
That’s promising, but we are again seeing a spike in cases, though Gov. JB Pritzker is not threatening mitigations as numbers teeter toward a time when we were stuck at home in some regions.
Vaccinations provide a level of protection, but with wearing masks and practicing social distancing, they are currently so much more effective. People are still getting sick because we aren’t doing enough to protect ourselves against the pandemic.
We need to cut down on the spread of COVID-19. Don’t give up now, and don’t put yourself at risk. And if we let the variants take hold, it will take even longer for us to stop the pandemic.
According to the News Media Alliance, the overwhelming recommendation of global health officials for eradicating COVID-19 is for people to get vaccinated. “Misinformation campaigns and vaccine hesitancy present formidable challenges in defeating this virus – but they are challenges that can be overcome through raising awareness and providing factual information about the benefits of the vaccine through reliable sources,” according to NMA.
We can learn a lesson from the Chicago Cubs. The team is tested daily, and players, coaches and team employees who work with the players have access to any vaccines they want or need. But still, some Cubs players, coaches and team officials are getting infected with COVID-19. Why? Some players don’t want to get vaccinated (at least 15%), even though they have the opportunity. If five or six people get sick in the team’s bubble, that’s about 25% of the team, and there’s a greater chance for even more of the team to get sick. It’s a vicious cycle that requires vaccinations, masks and distancing to stay safe.
Vaccines aren’t perfect. Yes, one of the three vaccines – Johnson & Johnson – had a link to blood clots in six female recipients within the first two weeks after vaccination. This has caused a pause in distribution after nearly 7 million doses being administered. But fewer than one in a million got the clots, which reportedly can be treated, and now medicine knows what to look for.
The vast majority of vaccines being administered in Illinois were developed by Moderna and Pfizer, not Johnson & Johnson. Moderna and Pfizer are available.
So if it’s a choice between getting the vaccine or the virus, isn’t it better to get the vaccine than to get sick? Consider the choice we had nearly 40 years ago after Illinois made it law that we wear seat belts in cars. Seat belts saved lives and continue to now that it’s commonplace for everyone to use them. Vaccines, and wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing will likely also be commonplace, and save lives.
So, let’s all work together, be smart, get vaccinated, keep wearing masks and social distance.
And come the Fourth of July, or maybe Labor Day, let’s celebrate together our ability to get closer to normal.