A happy dance. A breathtaking vault and the gymnast flashing a white CDC card in response to applause. A car sticker proudly displaying a needle.
These signs of elation are tied to receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.
Those of us who have gotten one or two shots experienced a wave of relief that comes with knowing protection from the coronavirus will bring us a step closer to normalcy. We are overdue for lots of celebration.
Even so, a threat lurks over all of us, like a dark cloud on an otherwise bright day. If more people don’t fill those empty vaccination clinic slots, the public won’t be as safe as it could be.
State health officials estimate 80 percent of Minnesota’s population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, which means enough people are protected from a disease because they’re vaccinated or already had it. (Health experts still recommend you get immunized if you’ve had COVID-19 because the vaccine could create a bigger immune response, better preparing you to fight off the coronavirus in the future.)
We are still far from reaching herd immunity with about 55 percent of Minnesotans receiving at least one shot as of Sunday. The state’s count of coronavirus patients filling intensive care beds by the end of last week end was at its highest since late December.
And if you think you don’t need a COVID-19 shot because you’re too young to get seriously ill from it, keep this in mind: The majority of people hospitalized in Minnesota during this recent surge are younger than age 60.
More Minnesotans need to get vaccinated for their own protection as well as for everyone they come into contact with, including people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons or because they’re younger than 16.
Vaccination clinics are seeing far too many empty slots recently. Some people appear to have decided against getting the shot, as was the case a few weeks ago with a couple of Minnesota State University students who said they’d decided against getting vaccinated because they’d either had COVID-19 already, figured they were at low risk or didn’t like the news about possible side effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Fifteen women, most younger than 50, experienced blood clots in the U.S. after getting the J&J vaccine. That’s out of 8 million people given the shot. As of Friday, federal regulators gave the go-ahead to keep administering the one-shot vaccine because the clotting risk is so negligible. And for those who still don’t want the J&J, the other vaccine choices are widely available.
The shortsightedness of refusing to be vaccinated is what will get us all in trouble as the virus continues to circulate and mutate. The state’s rollout of a mobile vaccination unit to take to residents who may have trouble getting to clinics is a solid strategy for finding people who have fallen through the cracks as are efforts of employers to bring the vaccine to workplaces.
Skeptical residents also need to keep hearing from those of you who joyfully got your shots. Spread the word in every way, shape and form about why it is so important to you and your community. A team effort is what will carry the day when it comes to stopping this pandemic.
Doing a happy dance is an exhilarating way to mark the milestone of being vaccinated, but filling up that dance floor — 6 feet between dancers, please — would be a much more fulfilling celebration as herd happiness turns into herd immunity.