An altar call for the unvaccinated
Published July 29, 2021
By Tom Campbell
Sometimes I hate it when I’m right. My April fool’s column predicted that our return to life as we knew it before COVID would likely be determined by those who refused to take the shot. We, who have been vaccinated, are paying a price for those anti-vaxxers who selfishly choose not to protect themselves, but they also disregard the health and freedoms of the rest of us.
Here are the facts, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. After peaking at 12,079 cases on February 3, North Carolina began a decline in the number of daily new cases, reaching a low of 55 on June 26th. About that same time, we witnessed a slowdown in the numbers being vaccinated. The Delta variant’s appearance sparked a dramatic spike in our case numbers and hospitalizations. In just a bit more than a month we jumped from 55 to 3,268 on July 29th. Our hospitalizations more than doubled, rising from 374 on June 26 to 1,141 this week. Almost every new case, every new hospitalization came from those who were not vaccinated.
Only 58 percent of those 12 and older in our state have even had one dose. Some of the remaining 42 percent have real health issues, but a large number are refusing for political reasons or because they are being fed false information. Some don’t want anybody telling them what to do. Curiously, they get a required driver’s license, register their vehicles, pay taxes and even get mandated shots to prevent other diseases, but say they have a right not to get this vaccine.
We will never fully go back to our pre-virus life until a large majority (70 percent or more) have been vaccinated. We’ve tried encouragement, making it extremely easy, even begging. North Carolina has offered incentives, entering the names of those vaccinated in a million-dollar lottery drawing. Maybe it’s time to change tactics.
On July 12, French President Emmanuel Macron, discouraged by his country’s abysmal vaccination record (37 percent), announced that come August 1 citizens would no longer be allowed to go to cafes, bars, restaurants, shopping centers and indoor venues without proof of vaccination or a very recent negative test. And those tests would no longer be free.
Guess what happened? As expected, there was a large outcry from those claiming Macron was a dictator or worse. But more than a million people made appointments to get vaccinated within a day, and large numbers continue to sign up. Other European countries are taking strong measures as people grow angry that they are being penalized because of those who won’t do their civic duty.
It’s time North Carolina spoke out. A number of hospitals have already announced that all their employees must be vaccinated. Many private colleges and UNC Chapel Hill have told students matriculating this fall they must have the shots or frequent covid tests. Businesses are joining the movement.
Here’s my spin: We are on a track to return to large numbers of new cases and hospitalizations. The CDC just announced we should again wear masks when we go indoors to public places, whether vaccinated or not. All school children are advised to wear masks in class. If coronavirus gets really bad, as it has in some places, we will be forced to return to conditions we faced in 2020.
I don’t want to return to those lonely, restricted times. If forced to be restricted again the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of those, who may claim to be patriots, but are unwilling to do their duty and get their shots.
It is time that those of us who did the right thing started telling the unvaccinated that they stand between us beating this deadly disease or going back to 2020. The only unarguable way to beat COVID is to do the right thing and get vaccinated.
Maybe some good old-fashioned shaming might work. Can I get an Amen?