By Wes Kerr
As we reached a much-anticipated summer here in 2021, it looked like the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was in sight. Local case numbers started to significantly dip, and vaccines began rolling out for the general public.
That was the first time I felt like we could have a normal fall free of worries about the virus that has haunted us for more than 18 months.
However, as we sit here at the beginning of September, it sure feels a lot like where we were in 2020.
Several schools are shut down due to rising case numbers, more and more people young and old are being hospitalized, and ICU beds are filling up across the country. This was incredibly saddening last year, but now it’s even more so. Because this time, these outbreaks could be prevented.
The main argument I’ve seen against the COVID-19 vaccine is that people are too hesitant or scared to take it. But these shots were not just jumbled together at the last minute.
In 2002, the SARS outbreak that spread across the globe and especially in Asia was caused by a coronavirus strain, a similar one to the variants that now cause COVID-19. So scientists across the world actually had a head start on what these vaccines would look like. Research was done for nearly the past 20 years, and when this novel virus began to spread rapidly in March 2020, they were ready to create the vaccines.
Then, the major pharmaceutical companies administered multiple phases of trials to an increasing number of adults of all ages and backgrounds. In Pfizer’s Phase 3 trial, more than 43,000 participants received the doses. After just the first shot, the vaccine was 95 percent effective. Moderna’s clinical Phase 3 trial of over 28,000 individuals achieved 94 percent effectiveness.
If you are shipwrecked, and are given a device that gives you a 95-percent survival rate versus another that is far more risky, why would you say no to the better option?
Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccines not only significantly reduce your chances of infection, they will also reduce the severity if you were to have a breakthrough case, which is extremely rare.
In fact, 98.7 percent of all COVID hospitalizations in South Carolina are from the unvaccinated. The bottom line is this: if you get the vaccine, you severely reduce your chances of getting sick and dying from this virus.
Since the pandemic’s spread is incredibly rampant at this point, our only hope in ending this surge is by getting our community vaccinated. Very soon, children 12 and younger will get their turn as well.
If everyone pitches in and gets their shots, we will no longer have to close schools, wear masks, or fill up our ICU beds. And, of course, we won’t have to worry about postponing our high school football and sports schedules.
This past week, I interviewed Whale Branch Early College High School football star Joseph Hicks, who has led the Warriors to an impressive start in 2021 with a fourth-place ranking in the SCHSL Class 1A poll. But what impresses me the most about Hicks’ team is not its play on the field — it’s the team’s commitment to staying safe off the field and getting the vaccine.
Hicks and most of his teammates are fully vaccinated. The Warriors have committed themselves to wearing masks and practicing social distancing in situations where the spread of the virus is more likely in hopes of avoiding the quarantines that have shut down so many other programs.
We all should follow their example and help our community defeat this invisible opponent. Then we can return our kids to in-person school, enjoy big events and gatherings, and help us all live healthy and enjoyable lives.
It’s time for everyone in the Lowco to roll up our sleeves, and get vaccinated.
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He reports on local sports for LowcoSports.com and is co-host of the LowcoSports Lowdown and Lowco Pigskin Podcast.