Time to step up and help out

By John Marble

Twenty years ago, America suffered a devastating attack and a horrific nightmare as the Twin Towers collapsed in a heap of concrete, fire and death.

I was most deeply moved by the newsreels showing New York firefighters and police running toward the scene, while most rational people were running away, running for their lives.

Looking back, I don’t recall seeing many people standing around watching or waiting, not doing anything.

In fact, people across America pitched in, sending supplies and prayers, doing what they could.

Shortly thereafter, we were joined in combat, in wars that persist today, nearly two decades later. And every person involved in those wars stepped up and volunteered to help in the effort.

We have just now entered the second year of a war of a different kind: our struggle with the COVID virus.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Trump administration for the massive effort that produced the vaccines we now possess, vaccines that are highly effective, safe, affordable (free) and available to many Americans.

“Warp Speed” was a great success, and a fine indication of how government and private enterprise can join forces to make progress in difficult times. Bravo President Trump.

Personally, I leapt at the opportunity to get vaccinated at an early phase of the program. I have also had the opportunity to observe the amazing level of organization at vaccination events in locations like the Linn County Expo Center.

I have been stunned by the professionalism and poise of the hundreds (hundreds!) of volunteers who are helping our communities achieve some level of immunity.

And yet, roadblocks to our recovery remain. There are a significant number of folks out there who are hesitant, even violently resistant, to achieving immunity through vaccination. To those among us who are worried about the COVID vaccines, I would ask you to consider these thoughts:

Are the vaccines perfect?

Almost. After vaccination, a small number of recipients may still contract the disease, but 100% will be protected from death. No more death sounds like a pretty good deal.

Are the vaccines perfectly safe?

Nearly so. On rare occasion, a recipient suffers an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This represents an extremely tiny fraction of the 80 million people who have already received a vaccination.

Are there other medical (or other) concerns about receiving a vaccination?

I have not read any convincing reports or studies that indicate genetic modification, micro-chip implantation or any other unusual outcomes.

What about this so-called “herd immunity”? Won’t that take care of things?

Apparently so, but only if a very large percentage of our population gets vaccinated or is naturally infected by the virus.

Non-vaccinated people represent a refuge where the virus can exist and reproduce and mutate. Clearly, each non-vaccinated person among us simply lengthens the time we (collectively) have to deal with people getting sick.

Oh, a note about the issue of “variant strains”: Viruses reproduce at an extraordinary rate. Each reproduction includes a tiny chance of genetic mutation. When they occur, these mutation events result in new variant strains of the virus.

As the virus species continue to change over time, there will eventually come a time when our current vaccines will not be as effective as they are now.

The longer we allow the virus to find refuge in our human population, the greater the chances of producing new variant strains.

This is fairly linear math.

The failure of a significant number of us to achieve immunity will result in a longer health challenge for the rest of the community.

Our individual duty, then, is to pursue immunity for ourselves so that we can protect our family, our neighbors, and people in our greater community.

Yes, even people we do not know.

Historically, Americans have been called on to take some collective action to solve big problems. Wars, for instance. But medical challenges too. Think about our battles against polio and smallpox, diseases that are virtually extinct due in large part to an effective vaccination program.

For goodness sake, can’t we just agree to deal with the COVID virus the same way?

Yes, getting a vaccination involves a tiny degree of effort. You have to make a phone call and show up for your appointment.

Call Linn Public Health at (855) 441-2311. Or ask your local pharmacist. Many pharmacies are now giving vaccinations to eligible patients.

The sooner we achieve immunity, the sooner we will be done with COVID. Go get vaccinated. Do it for yourself. Do it for your children. Do it for your neighbor. But just do it.

– John Marble lives in Crawfordsville, where he farms and volunteers with the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District.