EDITORIAL: We can end this, just get your shots

York Dispatch Editorial Board

Five to six weeks to 95% immunity.

One shot, a wait; a second shot, another wait. 

That's all it takes to be rid of most of the worry that you'll catch COVID-19 or inadvertently pass it on to someone else.

That's all it takes to bring us a little bit closer to the end of the pandemic.

That's all it takes to end the strain our doctors, nurses and entire health care system have been under for more than a year.

Why wouldn't you do just that much?

The county, the state, the country, the world has been searching for a way to control the coronavirus for about 17 months. Masks help, as long as everyone wears them properly (covering just your chin does nothing, guys). Staying away from people helps, but eventually people need to get food, get exercise or just see other people.

Two shots of vaccine, that helps. A lot. 

More:Thursday update: Two new COVID-19 deaths reported in York County

More:College kids urged to get vaccinated; statewide demand flags

More:As demand wanes, WellSpan Health offers walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations

The announcements that first the Pfizer vaccine, then Moderna, then Johnson & Johnson were approved were joyful tidings. There was the agonizing wait while production was ramped up and the vaccine was slowly distributed around the country.

There was the priority list: long-term care facilities, health-care workers, first responders, older people, people whose immune systems are compromised, those with certain medical conditions.

We waited for our turn, checking for updates, helping those who should have been first in line to figure out the system and get appointments. Phase 1A, 1B, 1C. Phase 2. Finally, the word that anyone over 16 who wanted a shot was free to get one. 

And we did, many of us. As of Thursday, more than 173,000 York County residents had received at least one shot.

The problem is, York County has almost 450,000 residents, so only about 38% of the population is even partially vaccinated. 

We aren't keeping up with the rest of Pennsylvania: The state shows 51.2% of residents have received at least one shot of the vaccine.  We aren't keeping up with the nation, where 44.7% of residents are at least partially vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's not surprising that York County is lagging in vaccination rates. Heavily Republican areas are falling behind, so much so that Republican members of Congress who are also medical professionals put out a video last weekend urging people to get the vaccine.

Some people are worried about the methods used to create the vaccines and the emergency-use authorization from the federal government that brought them to the public so quickly. Others are still clinging to the false belief that COVID-19 is either a hoax or no worse than the normal seasonal flu.

And yet, in York County, we are still seeing deaths nearly every day caused by this disease. In the 14-day moving average, we're still seeing more than 90 patients hospitalized with this disease.

At the end of the month, the Wolf administration is lifting every restriction except the requirement to wear a mask indoors or outdoors when in a crowd, saying that decreasing cases show that the vaccines and the restrictions have worked. After the spike that happened after some restrictions were scaled back on April 4, we'll see how that goes.

But here's a carrot for those of you complaining about wearing masks: Once 70% of the population of the state has been vaccinated, Gov. Tom Wolf says he will end the mask requirement.

We can get there. We've done it before. Do you have a scar on your arm from the smallpox vaccine, or do you remember taking the polio vaccine with a sugar cube? This situation is no different, we just got to the vaccine more quickly this time because scientists have been, well, sciencing.

So just go, get your shots. That's all it takes.