PD Editorial: Vaccines are the best bet to defeat COVID-19

Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

If current trends continue, the United States likely will pass a dismal COVID-19 milestone in May: 10% of the population will have tested positive for the virus by the end of the month. That’s more than 33 million cases and more than 500,000 deaths. The nation is at war with the coronavirus, and we must strive for total victory, not détente. Vaccines are our best weapon in that war.

Many Americans choose not to fight. They avoid vaccination out of political malice, bad advice, misinformation or skepticism. Those millions of people diminish the nation’s ability to achieve herd immunity, and they put themselves, their families and their neighbors at greater risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

Not just deadly but also potentially life altering for survivors. Many people who contract COVID-19 wind up in the hospital for weeks or months. Others suffer physical maladies such as permanent damage to lungs, heart, kidneys and other organs. Researchers also are studying neurological impacts such as lingering COVID brain fog, as it’s called, whose symptoms include memory difficulties, poor concentration and general cognitive decline.

If the prospect of never being able to breathe well again or walking around in a mental haze for no one knows how long isn’t enough to convince someone to get fully vaccinated, we don’t know what is. Every Californian 16 and older is eligible.

Perhaps there is no reaching the stubborn holdouts, but there’s hope for the 5 million Americans and counting who received the first of two injections but not the second. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as well as a forthcoming one from Novavax require two shots. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot.

Some of those millions of people choose to eschew the second shot. They think that one is enough (it’s not), that they don’t want to deal with the possible side effects (flu-like symptoms for a day or two) or that it’s just too much hassle.

Those aren’t good reasons. Yes, scheduling and getting the second shot is inconvenient and even annoying, but it’s a small price to pay for a highly effective, safe shield against a terrible disease and its worst effects.

Many other people who stall out after one shot don’t choose that route. Intermittent shortages of vaccine doses have proved disruptive. So, too, is life sometimes. A poorly timed sickness, travel or other things can prevent someone from making it to an appointment. To them, we say, keep trying. You obviously cared enough to start down the path to protection. Finish it, even if it requires starting over.

About half of Sonoma County adults are fully vaccinated. If you’re one of them, continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Wear a mask indoors. Outdoors, it’s optional. The CDC now says that fully vaccinated people don’t need a mask in the open air around other vaccinated people. Holdouts and second-dose dodgers still should wear one everywhere there’s possible exposure, indoors and out.

Hang onto your vaccination records, too. When vaccine passports finally come online, sign up and carry the proof that you cared about your health and other people’s health. America will start to return to normal, at least for those who are fully vaccinated.

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Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

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