This holiday season, there’s a gift we can give to ourselves, to one another, for the greater good of humankind.
It won’t cost much — for most, it will be free. But its impact will be life-changing for millions of people. It can provide hope, boost the economy and reunite loved ones.
As we close the book on 2020, commit to getting the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.
For some, it’s a given. It’s not a question of “if” — it’s a matter of when the vaccine will be available to them.
But for many others, the decision is not so simple.
A poll taken earlier this month by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed 27% of surveyed U.S. adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Another 26% say they won’t.
If many of the “undecideds” turn into “won’ts,” not enough people will get the vaccines to gain control of this disease. We must do better.
Experts say it will take about 70% of the U.S. population getting vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity” — when enough people are protected that the virus can be considered under control.
The people reluctant to get the vaccine might not be who you think they are, according to the poll.
More women than men are skeptical of the vaccine. Only 36% of people younger than 45 think they will get the vaccine, while the rest aren’t sure they need it. Though minority groups have been hit hardest by the virus, polling shows Black and Hispanic citizens among the most hesitant to get the vaccine.
Much of the polling was done before the vaccine was put into use. Now that Americans have seen Vice President Mike Pence, President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci roll up their sleeves — not to mention, staff members at Dubuque’s two hospitals and other local medical providers — maybe some apprehensions will be put to rest.
The more people learn about the vaccine, its effectiveness and its impact, the more likely they are to get vaccinated. Transparency by the U.S. government will be critical — even about the unknowns, such as how long the vaccine’s effectiveness will last.
But every American can play a role in promoting vaccinations. Ask your friends, your neighbors, your grandchildren. Make sure everyone you know knows just how much this matters.
Americans have lost more than 300,000 loved ones to COVID-19. The darkest days might well be still ahead of us, as it will be months before the vaccines are available to the public at large. The vaccine is a shining light that can lead us out of the dark tunnel.
Support your fellow Americans. Support your local businesses. Get the vaccine, and let’s get on with our lives.