Shunning coronavirus vaccine cannot become normal action

Jun 11, 2020, 11:28 AM

If only there were a vaccine, we’d really be getting somewhere. But without effective, widely available protection from COVID-19, normal life will be at least somewhat on hold.

This is what medical professionals have been saying. And business owners, too. It's certainly what investors have been focusing on, as any hint of good news on the vaccine front sends stocks soaring.

The thinking: we won't freely be back to normal, dining out in restaurants, going to concerts and sporting events, attending religious services without restrictions, until people know that they are protected from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

That's what most people are thinking. But not everyone, and not enough.

A recent poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found that seven out of 10 people would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were free and available to all. That's not bad, but given what's been happening, not bad is far from good enough. and not surprisingly, given our divided reality, this breaks down along party line, with eight in 10 Democrats ready for vaccination, but just six in 10 Republicans set to roll up their sleeve.

Some 110,000 dead. Continuing flareups in certain cities and states, some of which had felt that the problems were largely under control. And folks everywhere itching to get the economy going again.

This would all be difficult enough if we were on the verge of having a vaccine. But we aren’t. Yet rather than cheering the vaccine’s release, when it comes, some folks plan to shun it. Because it’s some sort of government plot. Or is unsafe. Or an effort by Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, to implant a tiny computer chip in all who receive a vaccination. (Yes, sadly, there are some who actually believe that.)

Folks living in this sort of dark fantasyland would do well to learn a bit of history. About smallpox. And polio. The development of vaccines to protect people from those scourges, and others, were life-saving and life-changing.

A COVID-19 vaccine won’t be as dramatic an event as were those. But, given the depth and breadth of the economic destruction caused by the virus-induced shutdowns, a vaccine that could allow a return to life as we knew it would most decidedly be a game-changer. As long as people get vaccinated.

A Guest Editorial