Let's Take Charge of Our Destiny

Despite overwhelming evidence that it is safe and effective, many people continue to have concerns and doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

We all know that shaming or arguing with unvaccinated people does not work. So, we must provide the facts, which are that positive cases continue to rise in Monroe County and in Pennsylvania. It is a conversation worth having, especially if it is a loved one or someone you are in contact with daily.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in Monroe County, just 47.2%, 80,599 people, are fully vaccinated.

This should be a wake-up call that Monroe County is moving in the wrong direction for everyone.

We cannot continue to put citizens, front-line medical workers, service workers and teachers in danger because of the raging Delta variant and our reluctance to protect ourselves and those around us. I have spoken with nurses, doctors and other front-line medical workers and they are frightened by the increasing hospitalizations. They are exhausted and simply cannot face another dire, winter of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

According to the Pennsylvania COVID ALERTPA app, which charts daily numbers, as of Aug. 4, Monroe County has 15,203 cases and 322 deaths. The CDC reports the Delta variant is more contagious and spreads at a faster rate. Now the health experts are calling the Delta variant the virus of the unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated people are suffering with more severe symptoms compared to vaccinated persons. The bottom line: we are headed in the wrong direction in Monroe County.

Statewide the numbers are slightly more; however, there is still room for improvement. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 52.6% of people in Pennsylvania are vaccinated, which breaks down to 63.2% of people 18 or older and 84% of people 65 or older.

It’s clear to me and the immunology experts that being fully vaccinated gives us a high degree of protection against infection and severe illness, hospitalization and death.

In a matter of weeks schools will be opening in Monroe County and across Pennsylvania. The CDC has recommended face masks for all students, even if they are vaccinated. Mask mandates are once again part of the back-to-school conversation because of our low vaccination rate in Monroe County.

Increasingly our small businesses are asking customers to wear masks or show proof of vaccination.

The business app Yelp has added information that businesses can use to help potential customers understand their policies during the pandemic. “All staff fully vaccinated” and “proof of vaccination required” can be added to their business pages of restaurants, nightclubs, and catering halls. This added feature enables customers to search which companies have protective measures in place.

I understand, as we all do, that no one wants to continuously stay home in fear as we did last year. The only way to ensure we are all protected is to achieve the 70% vaccination rate. Vaccinations are the only way to keep us safe and I would like to encourage all residents of Monroe County and the Commonwealth to get vaccinated. It’s the only way we can be together.

A full list of vaccination sites can be found at https://www.vaccines.gov/.