Vermont has one of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the United States, especially among the most vulnerable. According to data from the Vermont Department of Health, more than 85% of residents age 70 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, the 14 COVID-19 deaths seen in Vermont just this month, as well as the shift towards younger cohort COVID-19 hospitalizations, show that this pandemic is far from over and still poses a threat to our community.

Meanwhile, a dangerous narrative is circulating that young adults “don’t need to get vaccinated” because they have stronger immune systems and they “can fight it off” on their own.

This narrative is dangerous, for it has the power not only to prolong the effects of the pandemic in our state, but could also result in the death of more Vermonters.

It is important to remember that the decision to get vaccinated is not about your own chances of surviving the virus. Your vaccination status will impact the health of your family, community and people you see on a daily basis.

Whether you survive a COVID-19 infection unscathed ceases to be of importance as long as you continue to be a vector of transmission for the most vulnerable, including those who do not have access to the vaccine.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that access to the vaccine is a privilege. Today, first world countries with only 14% of the world’s population, have bought up all of the Moderna vaccine doses expected to be produced over the next year, and 96% of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses.

In poor countries like India, where coronavirus variants are spawning and COVID-19 victims are being burned in mass cremations, the vaccine may not be available to the average citizen for years.

Instead of bypassing the vaccine with the “my immune system can handle it,” narrative, young adults should get vaccinated to show they care about the health of and well-being of the community. The collective well-being of our state depends on us showing solidarity and compassion for one another.

-- HAL