In July, Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told The Guardian: “Unvaccinated people are basically the cannon fodder of the virus. The virus needs people to infect in order to replicate and the more people it has that are vulnerable or susceptible to infection, the more likely it will mutate.”
The unvaccinated don’t leave only themselves vulnerable to the virus; they make everyone more vulnerable.
I have heard all the reasons for resistance. There are the people who have politicized the virus and see getting vaccinated through a partisan lens. There are the people who view government pressure, and especially mandates, to put something in your body as overreach and anathema to the American ideal of independence and freedom. There are people who don’t trust the government, sometimes with good reason.
I have heard it all. And I reject it all.
There are just too many fresh graves pocking the land to entertain these objections. And too many lives disrupted, as people grieve lost loved ones, alter their employment, and keep their children home from school.
When this pandemic first exploded, I thought that it would be a disruption of a few months. We are now closing in on year two, and while some offices and schools have reopened, cases are again surging in many parts of this country, and the Omicron variant has spooked markets around the world.
We now have to consider the very real possibility that the virus will not be eradicated, but will become endemic. The journal Nature put this more directly in February: “The coronavirus is here to stay.” In a survey of more than 100 immunologists, researchers and virologists, the journal found that almost 90 percent thought that the coronavirus would become endemic. As Nature put it at the time, “it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come.”
Even if eradication is all but impossible, it is possible to control the virus and mitigate its spread, if more people are vaccinated.