OUR VIEW: Dayton-area leaders must stand up for vaccines now

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic was set up at the Butler County General Health District building Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 301 South Third Street in Hamilton. The normal days for vaccine clinics are Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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A COVID-19 vaccine clinic was set up at the Butler County General Health District building Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 301 South Third Street in Hamilton. The normal days for vaccine clinics are Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

More than a year ago, we had hoped a “final stretch” and “grand slam” in the fight against COVID-19 was around the corner.

In an editorial, we strongly urged individuals to get the vaccine as soon as possible. More than 320,000 Americans had died, including more than 8,000 Ohioans. At the time, the fact that we even had a vaccine developed so quickly seemed miraculous. It felt like a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s now halfway through January of 2022 — and 834,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-related deaths. Ohio has seen 2.2 million cases and just last week crossed the mark of 30,000 COVID-related deaths. A new variant and the strongest surge in cases we’ve seen in the entire pandemic is now upon us. It feels like we’re going into the 22nd inning, to exhaust our sports metaphor.

But we can’t endure any more innings. Now is the time the leaders in our region need to act.

In addition to the tragic loss of lives, the pandemic has strained the systems that hold our society together, nearly overwhelming them. Consider these facts:

  • Our local hospitals have stopped non-essential procedures that require an overnight stay as their beds fill up with COVID patients.
  • The Ohio National Guard has been tapped to assist, but its deployment to hospitals across the state was hampered by lagging vaccination rates for its members.
  • Several local schools have switched back to remote learning and some have closed due to rising COVID cases and staff shortages.
  • When schools and child care providers have to close buildings and classrooms, that has a big ripple effect on parents’ ability to work, as well as on their well being.
  • Employers across industries and sectors face increasingly stark staffing shortages.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Biden administration’s workplace vaccination requirement, and multiple Ohio bills have been introduced in recent months seeking to undermine workplace and school vaccine requirements.

We understand the critical importance of individual choice and liberty that Ohioans value, particularly in decisions regarding their personal health.

According to the latest state COVID-19 dashboard, just over 55% of Ohioans have been fully vaccinated — the percentage is even lower for those who have received their booster shot. While the proportion of the population that must be vaccinated to begin inducing herd immunity is not known, we are a long way away from the estimated 95% threshold required for measles or even the 80% required for polio.

Throughout the pandemic, we have pledged to keep COVID facts straight and to report the developing science and research into the disease. We believe Ohio lawmakers should support research-supported policies that will save lives. Challenges to these policies and legislation discouraging vaccination or vaccination requirements should be dropped.

Choices matter. If you are opposed to government mandates after a year of begging and pleading and hundreds of thousands of American lives lost, the choice should be evident: choose to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Private employers should be allowed — and encouraged — to enact workplace vaccination requirements to protect their workforce.

Four hundred and sixty seven people died in The Great Flood of 1913. Private enterprise and captains of industry, such as John H. Patterson, were among the first to lead relief efforts in what would later be known as the greatest disaster in our region. With nearly 1,600 dead from COVID-related illness in Montgomery county, this fight needs bold leadership from all areas, business included.

We have covered this pandemic for nearly two years now. Our subscribers have told us they rely on this coverage to help them make the best decisions to keep their families safe. We will continue to cover the pandemic accurately and to follow the science in our evolving understanding of how this disease functions. We can’t sit idly by, however, as thousands more Ohioans risk infection and death and the systems that undergird our society teeter on the brink of collapse.

Get the vaccine and encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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