• 88°

The greater risk is not getting the COVID vaccine

Tennessee’s top COVID-19 vaccine doctor was fired this week because she promoted the vaccine for teens. Youth now ages 12 to 17 are eligible for the vaccine, and thus far, the number of Tennessee teens getting the vaccine are low.
In fact, the vaccination numbers in Carter County and Tennessee are nothing to brag about. As of Monday, only about 37.85 percent of the total population in Northeast Tennessee had been fully vaccinated — 191,377 people. The numbers are even lower in Carter and Johnson counties — only 29 percent of the people have been fully vaccinated, compared to 45.5 percent in Washington County, 39.4 percent in Unicoi County, 39.8 percent in Sullivan County, and 33.4 percent in Greene County.
This means that wherever you go in Carter County, there likely are more people not vaccinated against COVID-19 than vaccinated. They’re in your church, at the grocery store, at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, restaurants, the Saturday evening car show, etc. And, they don’t wear masks or socially distance. They could be carriers of the germ and you not know it. Your only protection against COVID-19 is the vaccination.
The number of people getting sick with COVID-19 are expected to go up this fall when students go back to school, and the weather gets cooler. However, there are still new cases of COVID-19 every week in Carter County. In the past week there have been 24 new cases and two new deaths. So. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. It is still with us and is lurking wherever people gather.
Again, we tell you that your protection, whether young or old, against getting COVID-19 is the vaccination. Sadly, not everyone is on board with vaccination. They give you many reasons for not getting vaccinated. Some are concerned the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t safe or that potential side effects aren’t worth the risk of taking them. Others think the risk of getting COVID themselves is low; so, why bother? Still others have a resistance to government intervention and see taking the vaccine as capitulation to government outreach and a bane to personal freedoms. A small number are simply opposed to all vaccines.
The fact that people have varying reasons for not getting vaccinated can make it more difficult to get everyone on board, and that affects us all. Without sufficient numbers of people becoming vaccinated, we won’t reach “herd immunity.” That means the pandemic could continue indefinitely. It could mean more nursing home shutdowns this winter, more remote learning for students, and churches may have to close their doors again.
None of us want this to happen. We enjoy being with people too much.
We must listen to vaccine resistors and their concerns — and empathize. Provide them with creditable information, and at the same time remind people COVID is not over, and if you’re vaccinated, you’re clearly in a better place than if you’re not.
One of the things about COVID vaccines, which is very different from childhood vaccines, is that it matters to everybody. It’s not just about you. We’ve got to do this together.
If you have not received a COVID vaccination, we urge you to do so — not only for your protection, but for those around you. Once you get COVID, it’s too late to get the shot!