Please, Please, Please Vaccinate, Mitigate

Since March of last year, 2020, we have been trying to regain our equilibrium and resume a “normal” lifestyle. What is normal? Normal is being able to enter the grocery store without concern of infection. Normal is taking a flight without the encumbrance of a mask. Normal is holding a birthday party without trepidation. Normal is sitting across the table from your elderly uncle arguing about the Phillies. Normal is what we all strive to resume. And we almost made it. However, as I have said before, “almost is not good enough.”

A few months ago, we were able to relax our mask requirement for vaccinated people. Why? Simply because the science was telling us that vaccinated people gathered together do not pose a threat to one another. I felt confident hugging my granddaughter on her birthday, going to the hardware store without face covering, seeing everyone’s smiling face at a County meeting, and a host of other endeavors. Because I have been fully vaccinated since February, my confidence was off the charts. With good reason, as the vaccine I received was 90+% effective. If someone gave me 90% odds that Courageous Grace (semi-longshot at 9-2) was going to win the third race at Delaware Park by two lengths, I would be placing a wager. Ninety percent success far outweighs 10% failure.

Science is telling us that the vaccines, particularly the double-shot vaccinations, have 90% effectiveness against the virus. Ninety percent may not be enough for you to pursue the vaccine, but there is a 100% probability that no vaccine will result in no protection. Add to this the statistics, the real ones, not Facebook numbers, and I come to the conclusion that the vaccine is the most effective way to fight COVID-19 and its permutations.

If we don’t vaccinate, and we are not ardently masking, and we don’t socially distance, and we don’t wash our hands regularly, how are we supposed to fight the virus? As your Salem Community College begins the fall semester, we are asking everyone – employees and students – to affirm their vaccination status. The purpose of this is to expedite contact tracing. The information will be held confidential, and only shared with the Department of Health should there be an infection on campus.

First and foremost, our responsibility is to protect everyone on campus. Vaccinations are the most reliable protection from the virus. Second would be masking. Third social distancing. As of this writing, vaccinations are not required, only highly recommended. That may change, but for today, we are strongly recommending the vaccine.

Help us have a “normal” year. Vaccinate, mitigate (masks and distance), and let’s take care of one another as we enjoy the riches of learning in the fall semester.