Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Photo by Lynne Deliman
By Editorial Board
As the coronavirus resurges across the country in a menacing new form, we’re once again seeing debates rage on over what precautions we should or shouldn’t take in response.
The approaching school year only feeds into this, as we wrestle with how to balance the safety of our children with their educational, social and emotional needs. Local districts are scrambling to stay on top of the ever-changing advice issued by county, state and federal health agencies. Reports of sick and hospitalized children in numbers not seen during earlier phases of the virus add new layers of urgency.
It’s not where any of us would choose to be, but pandemics don’t seem to care much for human wishes. Unlike major plagues of the past, though, we now at least have the tools of modern science at our disposal.
The problem, strangely enough, is in our reluctance to use them.
The McKees Rocks Council should be commended here for using a portion of federal relief funding to incentivize resident vaccinations by offering up grocery vouchers to those who attend an upcoming pop-up clinic. A few who voted for this may well get a ribbing down at the bar for doing so, but if their actions save even one life or prevent one hospitalization they can surely feel proud of doing the right thing.
Given the innate tension between individual sacrifice and the greater social good that a global health crisis presents, it seems by far the easiest course is for everybody to voluntarily submit to a slight prick in the arm. Doing so appears to significantly reduce the likelihood of catching and transmitting the virus; and those who get sick despite the vaccine remain far less likely to take up precious space in a hospital bed or leave loved ones behind before their time.
The warning signs are on display in the overcrowded hospitals across portions of the South where vaccine numbers are lowest and the delta variant is running wild.
Let’s be glad we’re not seeing such devastation closer to home, but who’s to say we won't soon? It seems our choices give us each a determining role.
Since our nation’s founding, every generation has faced new struggles to balance the goals of personal liberty against the overall needs of society.
Knowing these ends often run in conflict, we adhere to laws that steer us somewhere in between either extreme. No one gets excited about stopping at traffic lights or paying taxes, but by and large we accept them as necessary evils.
During the first months of the lockdown in 2020, we all made huge sacrifices under an unprecedented phase of social distancing. Business owners saw their livelihoods crumble, children stayed holed up away from friends, sons and daughters restrained from visiting vulnerable, lonely parents.
If these evils were necessary, they were certainly costly.
Allowing a qualified pharmacist to implant you with an effective shield against the virus’s worst ravages for no monetary cost and at worst a few days' aches seems a pretty small sacrifice by comparison.