Dr. Thomas Dobbs may be a worrywart. For the past 15 months, the state’s chief health officer has been pleading and sometimes scolding Mississippians to take COVID-19 more seriously than many of them have.
He warns that — even though the numbers have been good for months in terms of declining cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus — the state is not out of the woods.
Of particular concern is the delta variant strain, which now accounts for one out of every five COVID-19 cases in the United States and which Dobbs predicts will soon become the dominant strain in Mississippi. One of many mutations from the original coronavirus, the delta variant is said to be not only more contagious but possibly more lethal. That’s a scary thought considering that nearly 7,400 deaths in the state have been attributed to the original strain.
The good news is that the dominant vaccines developed to ward off COVID-19 seem to work quite well against the delta variant. The bad news is Mississippi still has way too many people who are going unvaccinated, most of them intentionally.
Dobbs offered some statistics that should make the vaccine-resistant and the vaccine-averse think again.
In the past month, he said, the unvaccinated have accounted for 96% of the COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, for 95% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and — most alarmingly — 90% of the deaths. And that may be on the low side. A recent nationwide analysis by The Associated Press puts the correlation between death and vaccination status at more than 99%.
Maybe the worst of COVID-19 is over. The best way to assure it, though, is for the vast majority of people to get the shots who are old enough to do so. In Mississippi, according to The Washington Post’s vaccine tracker, less than half of the people eligible for the vaccine have received it.
Whether to get inoculated is more than just a personal choice. It’s also a question of recognizing one’s civic responsibility.
Maybe you are prepared to take your chances because you don’t like shots, or you’re worried about long-term side effects, or you don’t like being pressured into doing something against your will.
But your inaction could be endangering others, too. Low vaccination rates could create the breeding ground for a variant, even worse than the delta variety, to emerge that would put others, possibly even the vaccinated, at risk.
It’s in your interest, and it’s in the interest of your family, your friends and your community, to be immunized.
If you aren’t, please reconsider and get the shots.