Letter to the Editor:

Like everyone else, I am dismayed at the slow progress in our struggle to overcome the Covid-19, SARS CoV 2 virus and the worldwide pandemic it has created.

We lost a whole year in a shutdown that crippled our lives and crippled our economy. Now a second year has passed with new variants spreading rapidly.

When vaccines first became available, they were hailed as saviors by most, but derided as unproven and dangerous by many others. Those concerns have resulted in the decision to become vaccinated a matter of personal choice and personal freedom.

There are fundamental issues of moral conviction over which each of us might ultimately choose to draw a line in the sand. However, I’m not sure declining to get vaccinated against the Covid virus merits that rigid position.

Being suspicious of a vaccine that was rushed into production a scant nine months after the Covid-19 virus raced around the world is understandable. After all, vaccines against historic and deadly diseases such as small pox, measles, polio and many others took years to develop. One could wonder how many shortcuts might have taken place in the rush to bring a new vaccine to the fore.

Consider the technologies that are putting the world in the palms of our hands have also been at work advancing medical science. How some of these vaccines were developed so quickly makes for some fascinating reading. In one recent book, “The Code Breaker”, author Walter Isaacson relates how scientists from around the world worked together doing research on the Covid-19 virus and shared their discoveries in global Zoom meetings.

A defining focus became the microscopic war between bacteria and viruses that has been raging for billions of years. Bacteria, though outnumbered by invading viruses, have repeatedly rendered their enemy harmless by cleverly altering the genetic code of the virus. That process became one of the most exciting discoveries in the history of medical science, and it was critical in the creation of the earliest Covid-19 vaccines.

In the single year since these vaccines were authorized, proof of their effectiveness is evident everywhere. More than 3 billion people have been protected so far. Any side effects have been largely minimal and brief. From all those vaccinated has come a palpable sigh of relief.

Yet the virus continues to grow and spread. It has found continuing homes in those not yet vaccinated. Once exposed to the virus, even without showing symptoms, the unvaccinated can become hosts to the disease. That is the problem. Until enough unsuspecting hosts realize that they are actually factories of continually evolving infection, the world will lose out to the virus.

So far over 800,000 people have died in the United States alone, far more than any other country in the world — a shameful record for a land so blessed. None of us goes through life without continually evaluating our surroundings. We make our decisions based on those evaluations. But if we draw a line in the sand over an issue where it is unwise, we can paint ourselves into a corner difficult to get out of.

If you chose not to be vaccinated, please reconsider. Covid is again on the march, and far too many of its victims are destined to suffer and die needlessly. Going forward those who have received vaccinations and booster shots will remain protected. Those who have opted out may ultimately find themselves in a very difficult place indeed, having collectively surrendered to disease the very freedoms we all hold so dear.

Philip Jensen

Stoughton