Recently, I have been thinking back to the summer in the early 1950s. School was out and I was ready to play, yet my mother prohibited me from going to the beach or playing with my friends. This was her attempt to save me from the scourge of polio. Then I lined up in the gym of my elementary school and received my shot of the Salk vaccine, and play was back.

I became convinced that vaccines were a valuable tool in maintaining my health. In the Air Force, I received every shot they could give me, I did not know what I was getting nor did they tell me, I trusted that this was in my best interest. I continue to receive my annual flu vaccination, and have stayed current with the pneumonia and shingles vaccines.

When I could sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine, I did so and by the end of February, I was fully protected with the Moderna vaccine. Now I wonder why so many Americans are refusing to get protected. Some are concerned about the rapidity with which the vaccines were developed, yet this accelerated development was due to President Trump’s “Warp Speed” program and the fact that research has been looking into this type of virus for three decades.

Other folks were concerned because the vaccines had received only emergency approval. This is a bureaucratic process, and 160 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, some for as long as eight months, yet there have been minimal negative effects. It is much safer than being unvaccinated,

Many of those refusing to get their shots proclaim that being required to get vaccinated violates their personal liberty. Do these people drive on the left? Do they stop on green and go on red? Traffic regulations interfere with our personal freedoms, but that is done in the name of the safety of the population. Getting a vaccine for COVID is the same as obeying traffic laws.

Those who refuse vaccination must look at the data. A graph of percent vaccinated vs. COVID deaths per million population, by state, shows a clear negative relationship between getting the shots and deaths. States with higher vaccination rates generally have fewer folks dying from the virus.

Yes, this is the land of the free, yet it is also the home of the brave. Residents of Pinal County who are not vaccinated but who could get the vaccine, must be brave and help protect our county from unnecessary hospitalization and death.

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