State, local officials need to reach out effectively to unvaccinated

Published 2:56 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

The COVID-19 numbers say it all: Not enough Carter Countians are safe from the disease, and our death rate from COVID 19 in the past couple of weeks is among the highest in the state of Tennessee.
As of Friday only a third of Carter Countians had been vaccinated for COVID, and there had been 202 deaths – nine of them coming within the past 10 days. The Tennessee Department of Health reported 32 new cases Thursday for 559 active cases in the county. The department reported 331 cases in the period from Sept. 16-22. Over the last seven days the average positivity percentage was 23 percent.
Ballad Health reported most of the patients being treated in their hospitals for COVID have not been vaccinated.
The disease’s threat is still very real and growing. Although Ballad Health reports the number of patients in its facilities dropping, it is not because they are getting better, but because they are dying. 
Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are of unvaccinated people, according to government data from 45 states analyzed by The Associated Press.
Only 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID hospitalizations in the U.S., 0.1%, were of fully vaccinated people. Only 150 of more than 18,000 deaths, 0.8%, were of fully vaccinated people.
The state’s and county’s job is to find a way to reach out effectively to those who haven’t been vaccinated.
This isn’t an impossible task. Other states and counties have found innovative means of getting people to do the right thing, including jackpot lotteries for people who take the vaccine. However, we do not think people should have to be paid to take the vaccine.
Local health officials say they aren’t sure why Carter County is an outlier, but they should give it some thought and see if they cannot do something to promote the cause.
Some things to know about the vaccine:
– No serious side effects were reported in clinical trials. Temporary reactions after receiving the vaccine may include a sore arm, headache, feeling tired and achy for a day or two or, in some cases, fever. In most cases, these reactions are good signs that your body is building protection.
 – You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine gives your body instructions to make a protein that safely teaches you to make germ-fighting antibodies to fight the real COVID-19.
– It works. And once you’re fully vaccinated you’re protected. The vaccines are proven to help prevent COVID-19 and are effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
If you are among those who aren’t vaccinated, it’s time. Remember that the vaccine is free, safe, effective and broadly available. Vaccination protects you from infection, complications and death. It also protects the community from the dangers of further mutant variants of the disease.