Twenty years ago, my wife and I argued at least once a week about our lifestyles. I begged her to quit smoking. I told her she was risking cancer. She begged me to lose weight. She told me I was risking a stroke or heart attack.
I distinctly remember we ended our heated conversations by saying whoever dies first, the other one is the winner.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Her doctor broke the horrible news to me on Nov. 29, 2004. She had lung cancer. Stage 5. She had eight months to live.
She lasted seven months, three weeks and two days.
She went through radiation and chemotherapy. Bones were breaking and the steroids made her face break out. And yet, she told everyone not to feel sorry for her. She knew smoking made her more susceptible to contracting cancer.
I feel sorry for her pain and her death. But I can’t feel sympathy for what caused it.
And if I don’t lose a few dozen pounds, I wouldn’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me if I drop dead of a stroke or heart attack. I know better. And if it happens, it’s on me.
Getting a vaccination for COVID-19 is no different. We know getting the vaccine dramatically reduces our chances of dying from the worldwide pandemic. It’s that simple.
There are reasons many have refused the inoculation. Some say they have natural immunity. Others say they don’t trust the vaccine. And some won’t get the shot because they don’t like anyone telling them what to do.
It’s your choice. Shaming people to get the vaccine doesn’t work. Neither does making threats.
So here’s a different pitch: why not consider getting a shot because it’s the smart thing to do.
Like quitting smoking or losing weight.
It’s clear COVID-19 is here to stay. All we can do is stay ahead of it. The omicron strand is very infectious, but it’s less likely to cause hospitalizations or deaths – especially if you’ve been vaccinated.
Non-smokers still get cancer but at a greatly reduced rate. Skinny people still suffer strokes and heart attacks but at a greatly reduced rate. And people with COVID-19 vaccinations can still get the virus but at a greatly reduced rate and reduced severity.
Since March 1, 2020, 116,637 of 223,483 Clay County residents have been vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health. There have been 34,622 positive cases in the county since the beginning of the pandemic, and we’ve lost 703 of our neighbors, friends and family members.
Like the rest of the country, COVID-19 numbers are spiking – again – in the county with 311 positive cases in the past week. On the plus side, the state said 790 were vaccinated during the same timeframe.
While our numbers are up, the combination of vaccines and the lesser severity of omicron has resulted in a dramatic reduction of life-threatening cases. In fact, only three have died of the virus since Nov. 16.
Nonetheless, we’re back to considering shutdowns, mandates, masks and cancelations. NFL rosters have been gutted by virus protocols. NBA, NHL and college football and basketball games have been canceled. The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl was forced to scramble to find a replacement for Texas A&M after the Aggies reported a COVID-19 outbreak. Rutgers, a team with five wins, now will play Wake Forest.
Other bowls in San Diego, Boston and Hawaii were canceled. Other bowls were forced to dig deep in the trash pile of losing records to fill in for winning teams with the virus.
Early in the pandemic, people participated in daily celebrations of healthcare workers. They banged pots and pans from their porches and balconies as nurses and doctors arrived for work.
We may need to get those pots and pans out again – and keep them out. We also need to get the vaccine – not because you should be forced to get one, but because it’s the smart thing to do.
Like quitting smoking and losing weight.
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