People keep urging the public to take Covid-19 seriously and get vaccinated against it. With good reason: The available evidence, especially during this delta variant outbreak, indicates that those with the vaccine tend to tolerate the infection far better than those without.
But if we have learned anything this year, it’s that a significant percentage of Mississippians have chosen not to get vaccinated. Despite plenty of evidence that Covid-19 is no joke, up to half of the state’s adults appear to have decided that the shots are not for them.
Words have not made much difference. The number of people getting vaccinated in the state has risen in recent weeks, meaning the only thing that appears to change any minds is a greater possibility of serious illness or death.
In the hope that wise words might still help, here are some that look at the virus in two ways.
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts deftly used humor to contend that his son and grandson, much to his frustration, are using poor judgment:
“My boys and I, we do this dance,” Pitts wrote. “They give me their reasons for not getting the shot, I give them rebuttals.
“It was developed too fast, they say. It’s called an emergency, I say; you get out of the house faster when it’s burning.
“I don’t know what’s in it, they say. You don’t know what’s in Cheez Whiz, I say, but that doesn’t stop you from eating it.
“There may be side effects to taking it, they say. Well, the side effect to not taking it could be death.
“They nod and promise to think about it, but they don’t.”
Pitts’ point is that while skepticism is healthy, sometimes it makes you blind. If you don’t trust the doctors about the vaccine, he added, trust your eyes: People who haven’t been vaccinated are still dying.
A more direct commentary came from Dr. LouAnn Woodward, chief executive of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Speaking at the opening of a second field hospital in UMMC’s parking garage, she said this:
“We have an effective and available, a safe, and a free vaccine that we are not using to its fullest capacity. This time last year in press conferences, we all talked about, ‘Boy, if we can just get to that place where we’ve got a vaccine, we’ll get on the other side of this.’
“What I have to say to the citizens of Mississippi is we have that vaccine, we have that tool. And we have not appropriately and fully used it. This where we are. We do not have to be here, but this is where we are.
“Our healthcare workforce all across the state is traumatized. We are in trouble. I implore you, if you have not yet gotten vaccinated, please do so right away. It is the right thing to do for yourself, for your family, for our children all across the state of Mississippi, and for the future of our state.”
Pitts is right. Woodward is right. More people in Mississippi need to choose vaccination.
Jack Ryan is editor and publisher of the McComb Enterprise-Journal.