Jerry: Over 700,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Equally sad, 200,000 deaths happened after vaccines became available. Those would have been almost entirely preventable if people had gotten vaccinated.

Carrie: On a more promising note, the national caseload is declining. Unfortunately, Idaho case numbers are still rising. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare projects the virus won’t peak in Idaho until November.

Scheid Jerry Carrie 2021 mask

Jerry and Carrie Scheid

Jerry: And Idaho’s hospitals are struggling to keep up with the caseload. Another sorry statistic: Between May 15 and Oct. 2, over 90% of Idaho’s COVID-19 hospitalizations were not fully vaccinated.

Carrie: Why are some people so unwilling to get vaccinated?

Jerry: Sadly, some folks just don’t trust the government. And right now, the government is begging, and in many cases mandating, people to get the vaccine.

Carrie: But mandating vaccines is nothing new.

Jerry: That’s right. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington realized he was losing more troops to smallpox than through combat. So, he ordered them all to get vaccinated.

Carrie: I’m not sure people realize his vaccine mandate may have helped us win the Revolutionary War?

Jerry: Today’s U.S. military requires up to 17 different vaccines depending on the part of the world where you serve.

Carrie: I remember as a child having to get vaccinations in order to attend school.

Jerry: Back then, polio was a scourge that crippled and killed people, especially children. The polio vaccine was a miracle. Not only did it save lives but it also eradicated polio in the United States.

Carrie: Thanks to Rotary Club International’s vaccination efforts across the globe, polio is almost totally wiped out.

Jerry: Despite the successful history of vaccines, some people remain afraid of them.

Carrie: They contend the government shouldn’t force people to inject something into their bodies. Some Idaho legislators are claiming the government is using vaccines to inject microchips into our bodies to control us.

Jerry: Hmm, they don’t trust vaccines, but they’ll ingest ivermectin, a totally unproven COVID-19 treatment. We used to pour ivermectin on my cattle to kill heel flies. It’s so nasty that I made my employees wear rubber gloves.

Carrie: Here’s another argument: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the virus.

Jerry: True. Between May 15 and Oct. 2, 89% of Idaho COVID-19 cases were unvaccinated people. It greatly reduces your risk.

Carrie: What about folks who don’t want anyone, especially medical experts or the government, telling them what to do? They claim vaccine mandates are an attack on their personal freedom.

Jerry: New York Times Republican columnist David Brooks made an interesting observation. He talks about “a group of people so enraged by a lack of respect that they are willing to risk death by COVID-19 if they get to stick a middle finger in the air against those who they think look down on them.”

Carrie: A friend recently described this phenomenon as “entitled individualism.”

Jerry: It strikes me as “entitled selfishness.” People who refuse to get vaccinated endanger the rest of us. They allow the virus to spread and provide a breeding ground for COVID-19 to mutate.

Carrie: What troubles me is this: A small, vocal minority is putting greater emphasis on their individual freedom over the well-being of the community. There needs to be a balance, especially during a pandemic.

Jerry: Defining the line between people’s freedoms and the needs of the community is the very reason we have government.

Carrie: On an everyday level, that’s why we have speed limits and seat belt laws. They protect us from those who put their individual liberties, like driving as fast they wish, over the safety of the rest of us.

Jerry: As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Please get vaccinated.

Jerry is a retired farmer/rancher and native Idahoan. Carrie is a retired nonprofit administrator.

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