Editorial: If we get them, COVID-19 vaccines point the way forward

Spring has arrived in the Miami Valley, and with it, a palpable energy as we gain hope of ditching our masks and reopening society.

We can see signs that pre-covid life is on the horizon. But we’re not there yet, and if we want it sooner rather than later, we have a responsibility to each other to get vaccinated.

Thanks to the amazing work of our healthcare leaders and workers, 25 percent of Ohioans have already received at least one dose of the vaccine. Our local departments of health have led the way with great clinics run in our downtowns. Hospitals and pharmacies have made huge efforts to make this happen. The nurses and health care workers who are getting the shots into arms: Thank you. We owe you a debt of gratitude.

And with each shot, our community moves one step closer to a world in which we can go about our daily lives again without having to be in fear of crowds or lines.

But this is where the story goes dark, because we won’t get there if enough people don’t take the shot. Some Ohioans are delaying getting the vaccine or refusing altogether for reasons that are neither medically accurate nor logical.

This won’t work without you. We can’t quickly and effectively end the COVID restrictions and reach herd immunity without more people getting the vaccine.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said 75 to 80 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated before we have enough herd immunity to fully reopen society. We are on track to do that by the end of summer – if everyone does their part.

Some people are afraid that the vaccine will harm them or interact with their medications. If you have those concerns, talk to your doctor and follow their advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that for the vast majority of people, the vaccines are safe and effective.

Some people have said they’ll take their chances with the disease. Although more than a half-million Americans have died from it so far, they are optimistic about their individual body’s ability to fight it off. They might be right. They might get COVID-19 and recover. But this is not only about individuals; it is about all of us. Our society’s recovery hangs in the balance.

Vaccine support is bipartisan. President Joe Biden has pushed for it since his inauguration. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is making visits to vaccine clinics nearly a daily event. Former President Donald Trump has recommended that people get vaccinated. Last week he told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo: “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”

No one says you have to take a shot; that’s a personal choice. But if you decide not to take it, you are not only making a decision for yourself, you are making a decision for all of us. You are making a decision that can prevent this pandemic from ending.