EDITORIAL: Righting a wrong in vaccine info war

IN LAST Tuesday’s Herald-Whig, we made an error. We are only human, and despite our best efforts, we occasionally make mistakes. In this particular instance, though, the error was especially egregious because it added to the ridiculous cacophony of anti-vaccine misinformation being trumpeted by would-be coronavirus “researchers.”

Hospitals across the country are being filled to capacity — and beyond — by people who have decided to forgo vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We are not immune to this trend. In the last 30 days (as of Friday), Blessing Hospital has admitted 163 COVID-19 patients. Of those, 92% were unvaccinated. In the last seven days, 51 COVID-19 patients have been admitted. Care to guess how many were unvaccinated? Every single one.

One of the most common refrains we have heard from those leading the charge to remain vulnerable to severe illness or death is that they don’t want to be part of an “experiment.” Apparently, they feel the 170 million-plus people who have been vaccinated are not a sufficient-enough number to convince them that these vaccines, which are among the safest ever created, are not safe enough for them. What these people do not realize is that they already are part of the experiment. As a social media post we saw recently pointed out, they are what is known as the control group. That is, they are now the portion of the experiment that receives no protection.

In a laboratory experiment, the results of the test group would be compared against the control group to determine outcome probabilities. The results of this real-life experiment are beyond the pale of any ethical experiment, though. What we are seeing is that an enormously greater proportion of unvaccinated people are falling far more seriously ill than their vaccinated counterparts.

Please, we beg you to get vaccinated.

We could throw all sorts of numbers at you laying out the case for the safety and the efficacy of vaccinations, but we would rather share with you some plain old common sense.

Regardless of the exact probabilities — absolutely no vaccine is 100% effective, that has never been in dispute — we know that all three available coronavirus vaccines available in the United States reduce the likelihood of any one individual contracting the virus and falling ill.

Further, if your risk for contracting a virus is decreased, then your likelihood of passing on the virus is also decreased, particularly to those who also are vaccinated. This decreases their own risk of contracting — and thus passing along — the virus. This is why vaccines work. When was the last time you heard of anyone contracting measles or diptheria?

Viruses, though, are particularly worrisome because they like to mutate and change their battle strategies. But to do this, they need a living host. Unfortunately, they have found all too many hosts among the unvaccinated. So long as people are either unwilling or unable to get vaccinated, the rules of engagement in the battle against the coronavirus will continue to change as the virus continues to change.

What makes all of this so terribly frustrating is that we were so close to winning. Adams County displayed an amazing level of planning and logistical determination with testing and vaccination efforts late in 2020 and into early 2021. The operation was the envy of the state. As more people were vaccinated, the number of infections began to fall. It’s a simple graph to trace: Vaccinations went up, infections went down. You want results? There they were. As the number of vaccinations being given declines, the number of infections is going back up. It’s pretty simple to figure out what is going on.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible to wipe out SARS-CoV-2; it absolutely is. But it will take a comprehensive vaccination campaign, akin to those which eradicated smallpox and polio. For that to happen, people need to clear their heads, realize their own actions affect more people than themselves and get the shots.

We regret our mistake Tuesday, but we are doing our best to correct it and prevent it from happening again.

If you’re still holding out on getting vaccinated, please rethink your decision and take this simple step to keep you, your loved ones and every one around you safe.

Get the shot.

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