I’m tired of wearing my mask. I’m tired of the havoc wreaked on schedules and work because of a positive test. I just finished my second bout with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated and boosted. And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I’m insensitive or flippant about a virus that has proven to be very deadly, I’m not. I’m just tired of it, and I think we’re at a drastically different point than we were a year-and-a-half ago when this virus was running rampant and schools and businesses were closing.
In the spring of 2020, we didn’t know much about COVID other than it was extremely contagious, and the only protection we had was our own antibodies after having the virus. I was all for masking (still am) and all for closing schools and businesses (not so much now). Those were precautions that were worth taking because it protected our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. It protected vulnerable people with comorbidities from serious sickness or even death. We had to react as a society, and I think we did the right thing with the information we had.
Nearly two years later, with COVID once again running wild, we don’t have to react in such an extreme manner. We have options…and by options I mean VACCINATIONS.
As omicron is jumping from person to person like an attention seeking toddler, infections are happening at a record-breaking pace. Predictably, hospital numbers are also climbing, but the caveat to the rising (and concerning) hospital numbers is that nearly all of COVID patients who are hospitalized are unvaccinated.
As a person who believes in science, it is frustrating to see all the misinformation being presented regarding vaccines. Obviously, being vaccinated will not prevent everyone from becoming infected by the omicron variant, but being vaccinated quite obviously can help with the life threatening capabilities of COVID.
In Madison County, just over 60% of our county has been fully vaccinated. While that number doesn’t seem very high, it’s over 10% higher than the state average of Tennessee…which is incredibly embarrassing. Over the last two weeks, the state of Tennessee had an 102% increase in hospitalizations due to COVID.
As of Jan. 11, there were 157 COVID patients in Jackson-Madison County General Hospital - 70% of those patients were unvaccinated. There were 42 COVID patients in ICU - 86% were unvaccinated. Finally, there were 22 COVID patients on ventilators - 95% were unvaccinated. This puts an incredible strain on our local healthcare system and also puts anyone who needs medical care in danger of not being able to receive it due to an overwhelmed healthcare system.
Nearly 40% of eligible people in Madison County have chosen not to be vaccinated. A few of those people most likely have medical issues that could prevent them from being vaccinated but that number is small. The majority of those people are willfully choosing not to be vaccinated and, in my opinion, that is an extremely selfish and dangerous choice to make at this particular moment in time. We have a proven option that can help us fight this variant of COVID without shutting life down as we know it, and some people are refusing to exercise that option. It simply doesn’t make a lot of sense.
As we fight the seemingly never ending battle against COVID, our behavior has to move from reactive to proactive. We have to get vaccinated, and we also have to take some personal responsibility for our own health. While there have been a few cases of healthy people dying and/or being hospitalized from COVID, those seem to be outliers. The people COVID affects the most are people who are elderly or may have some underlying health issues. Some health issues are out of our control, but most health issues are self-imposed over time.
Again, we have options now, and it’s time to take a long look at the way we take care of our bodies. It also might be past time for some people to take off their tin-foil hats and go ahead and get vaccinated - for everyone’s sake.
Gabe Hart is a columnist for The Jackson Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: I’m over COVID - figuratively and literally | Opinion