A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Letter to the Editor: Do the right thing for the community

The anti-vaccine sign holders are not advocating for conditions that meet the collective needs of our community.

“I have an immune system.” “No forced jab.”

These were the messages displayed on the signs people were holding as I sat at the traffic light. The sign holders were enjoying a beautiful sunny day and were cheered by the honking cars as they passed by. All I could think was, “How did we get to this point in our community, state and nation?”

Let’s start with the first quote, “I have an immune system.”

Yes, you and every other human do have an immune system. We know from the beginning of the pandemic that COVID-19 has the ability to overrun our immune system and as a result people have been sick, some with long term effects, and many people have died.

Vaccines are the best option available to help us beat this disease. Some will argue that the vaccines aren’t working because those who are now vaccinated are still getting sick. It is true that the vaccinated are getting breakthrough infection but it’s also true that the likelihood of a vaccinated person getting COVID is much less than the unvaccinated, and the severity of symptoms is also much less in the vaccinated. Hospitalization numbers bear this out.

A good analogy is that the COVID vaccine works like an umbrella. An umbrella will protect the user from rain drops, light rain, and even a rain shower. But in a complete deluge of rain even the umbrella user is going to get wet, however, much less wet than the person with no umbrella. Our community, state and nation are now experiencing a deluge of COVID, thus even the vaccinated are getting COVID.

A basic premise of life that was passed on to me by my parents was the fact that we, as a society, have a responsibility to take care of those less able to care for themselves, particularly the young and the old. As a child growing up in Alaska I saw this firsthand as leaders made decisions to build schools, hospitals and senior care facilities to meet the needs of community members. Difficult choices were made but there was a collective consensus that as Alaskans we work together to support each other and our families.

What happened to that premise in society?

The anti-vaccine sign holders are not advocating for conditions that meet the collective needs of our community. Instead, they are relying on an overrun hospital system to be there if they should fall ill with COVID and need hospital care.

This puts all of us at risk because the hospital is maxed out with COVID patients and the typical medical needs are not able to be met. At least half the students in our schools are not old enough to be eligible for the vaccine. Those sign holders and others who choose to be unvaccinated are putting children and the smooth operation of fully staffed schools at risk. We know the hardships that many children experienced during remote schooling. Low vaccination rates in our community puts in person schooling in jeopardy if the level of disease continues to soar.

Whether you argue for “mandated” or “highly encouraged” vaccinations, I would advocate that you do what is best for all in our community and get vaccinated if you are eligible. It is the right thing to do and is reflective of our true Alaskan spirit.

— Margaret Gilman, Kenai

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