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Get the vaccine

On March 22, any adult in Michigan over the age of 50 will be eligible for one of the three COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Millions more Michiganders should be rushing to book their appointment and get their immunization. But unfortunately, not everyone will choose to get the vaccine.

Pew Research found this week that 69 percent of Americans plan to get a vaccine, which is an improvement from September’s number of 51 percent. But only 60 percent of rural Americans plan on getting the shot, which will likely not be enough to achieve herd immunity. This needs to be resolved in order for the Upper Peninsula to end the pandemic.

The number one reason for getting the vaccine: You’re nearly guaranteed to not die of coronavirus. Each vaccine in testing has virtually eliminated the risk of death. The virus tends to do the most harm to older populations and those with pre-existing conditions but there are also healthy, younger people who have died of COVID. The vaccines are also highly effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, which could save you thousands in medical bills. Beyond effectiveness, the vaccines are safe. None of the trial participants experienced adverse side effects related to their shot. Like most other vaccines, people experience some soreness in the arm that received the shot and occasionally feel fatigued or feverish, but those side effects last less than 24 hours. The side effects are far outweighed by the efficacy of the vaccine.

The more people we have vaccinated, the fewer COVID-19 cases we will have. Public health measures like capacity requirements and restaurant closures will no longer be necessary when we have eliminated this virus. Michigan has used a regional approach to safety measures, and this is likely to continue as cases decline. Yoopers have a responsibility to get the vaccine in order to restore the jobs of our neighbors and give them financial security. Some in our community have ignored the measures in place and rejected the use of masks and social distancing. But they cannot ignore the path to normalcy that the vaccine provides. The vaccine is going to restore jobs, protect public health, and give us our lives back.

COVID-19 variants have been rampant in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. With differing levels of immunity, variants are more likely to develop in order for the virus to stay alive. These variants can have higher mortality rates and spread more rapidly. High vaccination rates and fast distribution will prevent this, but if the Upper Peninsula has low vaccination rates, our communities could become hubs for the next variant.

Outside of the responsibility to get the vaccine, we all have the responsibility to encourage others to get it. We each know someone who has expressed skepticism about the vaccine or said they refuse to take it. Encourage those people in your life. We tend to trust our friends, family, and people we know. Sharing that you got vaccinated and being positive about it will encourage others to follow suit. All adults in Michigan should be eligible for a vaccine by May 1 and we must encourage everyone to book a vaccine appointment once they’re eligible.

Battling the coronavirus takes teamwork, coordination, and unity. It’s clear that we have not exemplified unity in the past year of this pandemic. People sowed division over masks, politicians, scientists, and even the existence of the virus. That cost us more than 500,000 lives. The utter selfishness displayed by some in our community is harmful and deadly. I like to think that Yoopers are kind, friendly, and care for their neighbors, but this past year has tested my belief in that. Apparently, people were willing to risk the life of a neighbor for a cup of coffee or a night bowling. We all want to go back to our favorite bars and restaurants and meet with old friends. The vaccine is going to give us the security to do that. It’s never been about fear of the virus — it’s always been about protecting our neighbors. Do not live in fear of the vaccine. Go get it and let us get back to living our lives to the fullest.

Finn Storer is a longtime Houghton resident and former campaign staffer. He can be reached at storer.comms@gmail.com.

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