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Editorial: No more waiting needed; it’s every adult’s turn

How will health officials reach the rest of the population?

Rowan County finds itself just a few spots higher than the worst vaccination rate in the state. For a time, that could be attributed limited supply, but it’s also become clear that demand is an issue. It’s caused by people with good intentions who continue to wait for their vaccine as well as skeptics who have grabbed hold of conspiracy theories and influenced their friends and family members.

The calculation is simple. Getting enough people vaccinated means an end to the pandemic. It means you can do things with less worry about contracting the virus and potentially spreading it to an at-risk family member. It means big indoor concerts, huge outdoor community events and no mandatory mask-wearing rules. Even getting one of two doses is OK if the alternative is none at all.

Not getting vaccinated risks a deadly infection when restrictions are lifted. Not receiving a shot also risks being barred from a flight or service from a business that requires proof of a vaccination. In both cases, it’s not government overreach. It’s the free market deciding what’s best for customer health and safety.

The elderly were able to be vaccinated several months ago. Those who were medically at risk for a severe case were able to get their shots March 17. It’s now every adult’s turn to be vaccinated.

The next step, as interim Health Director Alyssa Smith said in a story published on page 1A Sunday, is going “out into the community” rather than only relying on drive-thru vaccination clinics at West End Plaza. People interested in being vaccinated will continue to take advantage of the drive-thru clinics. But others may not do so unless a vaccination opportunity arises at a time and place that’s convenient. For married couples, it may not happen without some prodding from the wife. Woman are a majority of vaccinations in the county. Of the total female Rowan County residents, nearly 26% are vaccinated. Men are nearly 19%.

The Rowan County Health Department already is planning good strategies for communicating information and administering more vaccinations. COVID-19 has clearly proven to be worse than the flu, but ways the flu vaccine is distributed may work well for COVID-19, too. If a shift ends at 3 p.m., the COVID-19 vaccine clinic and informational session could start at 3:10 p.m. Pharmacies have proven to be a convenient way for many folks to receive the vaccine. Individual doctor’s offices can be, too.

To vaccinate as much of the working-age population as possible, evening and weekend clinics at different sites also will be critical. The Health Department is doing both this week.

The largest hurdle, of course, is vaccine hesitancy. That’s particularly true after news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine producing rare blood clots in women aged 18 to 48 with low platelets. Most people won’t read or care that the incidents are more rare than one-in-a-million (six of 6.8 million) and that this is an example of a vaccine safety system working.

For now, it’s important to make things as convenient as possible for folks who might be inclined to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. With just 22.3% of the county’s population currently vaccinated, it’s a good, next step toward herd immunity.

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