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Opinion | Another round of COVID Roulette

“It’s really a no-brainer. Get vaccinated. Vaccines are readily available for anybody 12 years old or older.”

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People sometimes look at me strangely when I’m in Publix or the Pig or at my neighborhood Circle K. I’m going to be one of the few people wearing a mask.

I’ve seen folks look at me and shake their head. I guess this is what some anti-maskers must have felt like when those mask mandates were in place. But now that they’re gone, few of us continue to mask up.

That’s silly, of course. This delta variant of COVID-19 is much more contagious and, some argue, more deadly. Delta is now the dominant variant of COVID in the United States.

People who are fully vaccinated – like my wife and me – are generally well-protected from the variant. Others are just depending on luck.

They’re playing COVID Roulette.

California and New York have high vaccination rates. In Vermont, more than 66 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Massachusetts and Maine are right behind at 62 percent. More than 61 percent of the population in Connecticut are fully vaccinated.

In Alabama, as of late this week, barely 33 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. We’re in a battle with Mississippi for dead last in the nation for vaccinations. Emphasis on “dead.”

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We are playing with fire here, or, at least, a deadly virus.

All during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen stories of virus-doubters whose last words were that they should have taken precautions. Ministers who preached that the virus was a hoax died of COVID. Anti-maskers who refused to follow CDC guidelines ended up on ventilators, and people rarely come off ventilators.

In Alabama, we play COVID Roulette.

That’s especially true now with this delta variant of the virus. People who are fully vaccinated have pretty good protection against this variant. People who are not vaccinated, or who only have one shot, are extremely vulnerable.

By late June, hospitalizations for COVID in Alabama had dropped to 166 patients. But since, as the delta variant asserts itself, hospitalizations have been climbing, now at the mid-200s as of this week.

Don’t forget that nearly 11,400 Alabamians have died since the pandemic began. That’s a lot of folks.

What we do know, though, is that of those getting sick and dying now, about 95 percent are not vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, you’re protected. If you aren’t, well, you aren’t.

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Despite what some slow thinkers believe, this is not a political issue. It’s a health issue. The coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat or Independent or Martian. You can’t wall it in. You can’t keep it out.

But you can be vaccinated against it, and vaccines have proved they not only protect you from getting the virus, but, for the small number of vaccinated people who do contract COVID, it keeps them from getting seriously ill.

It’s really a no-brainer. Get vaccinated. Vaccines are readily available for anybody 12 years old or older. There’s no secret chip. The side effects are minimal. The protection from the disease is almost maximal.

Or, if you prefer, just keep playing COVID Roulette.

Written By

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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