Editorial: If you've been hesitating, now is the time to get COVID vaccine

Left, Diana Siebert receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine during a Broadway Pharmacy vacation clinic at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau on Thursday, March 4, 2021.
Sarah Yenesel ~ sarahy@semissourian.com

After months of declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, both are on the rise. According to health officials, more than 97% of people getting hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. And according to surgeon general Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, 99.5% of deaths are among those who weren't vaccinated. Meanwhile, the Delta variant is causing problems all around Southwest Missouri, though it has yet to hit us hard. That's why now is a good time for the vaccine.

Unlike the original virus that disproportionately affected older individuals and those with weakened immune systems, the new variant is also sending young adults to the hospital.

In Cape Girardeau County, the COVID positivity rate has increased nearly 65% in the last week to 5.6%. And after a prolonged period without a new COVID fatality in Cape Girardeau County, an individual in their 60s died Wednesday.

Missouri's vaccination rate -- 46.6% have initiated a vaccine -- remains low. As of Wednesday, the vaccination rate in Cape Girardeau County was 38.5%. It's even lower in neighboring counties: Bollinger County (26.1%), Perry County (30.8%), Scott County (36.1%) and Stoddard County (29.1%).

The simple truth is that where vaccine adoption is higher, there are fewer deadly cases. The vaccine works. Meanwhile, even if you've previously tested positive for the virus, evidence indicates you are much safer if you also are immunized.

On Wednesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced an incentive program which, coupled with the state's education efforts, will hopefully encourage residents to proceed with vaccination. If you missed the story in Thursday's edition, read it online at semissourian.com.

Ultimately, we believe individual health and the ability to gather in groups without fear of spreading the virus is the best incentive. The vaccine has helped get us to this place. But without more people receiving it, the door is left open for further spread -- including that of variants.

Are vaccines perfect? No. We know that it's still possible to get COVID-19 even if you are vaccinated. But it's much less likely, and if you become sick, you are less likely to have severe illness or be hospitalized.

The Centers for Disease Control provides a fact sheet on the vaccine that is worth considering. Here are a few myths it dispels:

* There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes issues with male or female fertility.

* The vaccine does not alter your DNA.

* The COVID vaccine will not make you magnetic, and all COVID-19 vaccines are free of metal.

If you're concerned, talk with your medical provider. But we join others in the community, including the major health care providers, in encouraging vaccination for COVID-19.