Just one month ago, the America people were clamoring for the COVID vaccine. In mid-April, the United States was inoculating quite nearly 3 million doses a day, yet today our heroic health department heroes can’t give enough of the life-saving serum away. I am just like the health officials who have helpless watched as 582,081 Americans have died (as of 6 p.m. yesterday) and, closer to home, we in Hamilton County (TN) will lose our 500th life probably today or tomorrow. Over the weekend, our health department gave between 650-750 daily doses when we have the ability to give 2,000 doses a day. Walk up to any inoculation center and with no appointment there is no wait.
Further, it is absolutely free.
So why, for the love of God, is Tennessee just using 10 percent of the weekly allotment the government is making available. Sarah Tanksley of the state Department of Health said last week that of the 355,000 doses that arrived in the Volunteer State last week, only 37,000 volunteered to take the vaccine. It is beyond my comprehension why Tennessee is the third most-hesitant state in the country to accept the life-saving drugs. COVID-19 is not going away, although the number of cases is falling drastically.
We are nowhere near “herd immunity,” which is where there are so many inoculated the influenza cannot spread. In Hamilton County there are roughly 30 percent of our population that has been fully vaccinated, which means that 70 percent are still susceptible to be infected or, also as bad, infect those they love. Yet only sparsely populated North Dakota and Wyoming are slower than Tennessee in trying to eradicate a very serious threat where groups of people gather, be it at work or a Lookouts game. According to Johns Hopkins, 106.6 million Americans are fully inoculated at present - 34.7 percent of our population.
But in Tennessee, only 26.8 percent are fully vaccinated (1.79 million). Georgia has 26.9 percent, Alabama 24.4 percent, and Mississippi 23.5 percent. North Carolina is 32.2 percent, South Carolina 29 percent and Kentucky 32.2 percent.
On April 10th, a record of 4.63 million Americans were inoculated in a 24-hour period but, only one month later with bountiful supplies everywhere, we are about 2 million a day. That’s right…less than half, and begging.
I am not alone in my bewilderment. It is one thing to have a 95 percent promise I won’t get the virus and altogether another to know I won’t inadvertently pass the virus to someone else. “I think the Internet has been a big cause for reluctance because there is so much misinformation and unfounded rumors being spread,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Monday.
“I can understand someone being leery, but I wish they would seek out their personal physician, or talk to someone who survived the disease, or their pastor who has officiated a funeral service for a victim. Find a nurse in your neighborhood or someone else you would trust with your life and have that conversation. Listen, my wife and I have been to enough funerals and prayed for so many people.”
“I cannot stress how important the vaccination is to the people who live in Hamilton County,” Coppinger said.
Many people believe that when the CDC temporarily grounded the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the violation of lack-of-trust for the vaccine’s viability and creditability was widespread and it gave the doubters the opening they needed to doubt the greatest rescue mission from a pandemic the world has ever known.
Believe it or not, the Southeast has become notorious for its anti-vaccine stance. In Arkansas, the health officials notified the federal task force to skip their state allotment for a week. The Biden administration has just announced states that don’t use their fair share will see a portion of their incoming supply diverted to states where the demand is still great.
A growing number of states are moving toward incentives. In New Jersey there is the fun “Shot for a Beer” program where everyone who gets inoculated and is over 21 gets a pass for a free beer. In Detroit, anybody who drives a friend to get a shot gets a $50 gift card and in Texas they are seriously considering a cash incentive.
Far better, focus on being the solution. Get vaccinated and go back many years to a line of 50 years ago long forgotten … “Love means never having to say you are sorry.”
Make it be true.