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Is the problem that people find COVID deaths okay just as they do with flu?
Dennis Wyatt RGB
Dennis Wyatt

Just half of Americans have been vaccinated.

That’s way below the Centers for Disease Control target of 70 percent.

On top of that more whites than non-whites have been vaccinated

It’s old news, right?

Actually it’s older than you think.

That information is gleaned from a CDC report regarding the 2018-19 flu season.

It eerily reflects today’s general COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As such it provides a clue that those engaged in over-the-top political body slamming on the left as well as the right when it comes to vaccines are a bit clueless.

The 2018-19 flu season came on the heels of the deadliest flu season in years. There were 79,900 confirmed flu deaths in 2017-18. Some experts believe that number was higher. Reporting back then wasn’t as aggressive as it is with COVID given its global pandemic status. Also, many medical scholars will note that unlike with COVID deaths where an underlying cause contributed significantly to a person’s demise for the most part they weren’t tallied as a flu death.

It is clear COVID is a significantly more deadly and crippling concern than any flu strain to hit the United States since the 1918 flu pandemic. There have been 602,809 deaths to date.

Even if you judged it on a per week average, COVID is more than three times as deadly as the 2018-19 flu season killing 7,530 Americans on a weekly basis as opposed to 2,910. That’s based on 602,809 deaths in 80 weeks so far in the COVID pandemic that clearly isn’t seasonal. Compare that to the 2018-19 flu season that was much longer at 21 weeks as opposed to the previous year but recorded significantly less deaths with 61,200 people losing their lives.

The CDC since 2010 has said our goal should be to vaccinate 70 percent of the population each year against whatever dominate strain – read that variant – is the issue in a given flu season.

Yet we’ve never reached that goal.

Look beyond the cultural war over vaccines being exploited by both sides of the political spectrum. You will see evidence that we are approaching a 70 percent national vaccination rate at a pace that experts worry isn’t fast enough to reduce a deadly surge thanks to the Delta variant. Add those waiting for time to pass to get their second shot and those getting their first even though it is at a much slower rate than three months ago, it is fairly clear we’ll reach 70 percent vaccination levels.

That has never happened with the flu.

It says a lot about local efforts chipping away via things such as vaccinating people in their homes and organizing outreach clinics in underserved areas.

That is how the vaccination gap will be bridged. It won’t be by motor-mouth talking heads that essentially employ name-calling and various forms of bullying to either get the unvaccinated to get shots or to stop the vaccinated from hammering the unvaccinated into submission.

Yes, there is pandemic fatigue. It happened in 1918-1919 during the Great Flu Epidemic as well.

But there is also COVID acceptance.

By that people are accepting the fact people will die from COVID today, tomorrow, and a year from now.

The current moving 7-day death rate average is at 211 according to the CDC. That’s up from 167 deaths of the prior seven-day average. The current rate reflects 77,015 annual deaths.

It is a rate that is on par with seasonal flu deaths.

When 77,000 people a year died from flu the wearing of masks in public was non-existent, there were no lockdowns, and the news – and social media rants – weren’t dominated by teeth gnashing over vaccinations.

Instead of recklessly assuming Darwinism is at work, perhaps it is “the herd” accepting the level of risk.

At the same time, however, people are still getting vaccinated at a much lower rate than experts and pundits would prefer. And just like with any other heightened conditions of danger, a continuing surge spurred by the Delta variant is likely to be enough to encourage more to opt for vaccines especially if they are aware of those dying or getting violently ill on a personal or community basis.

The tone of the debate matters even if those in a position of responsibility or bully pulpit have to resist self-righteous impulses.

The reason is simple. It’s a logical conclusion — whether you supposedly base all of your personal decisions on science instead of emotion or personal outlook on life — that COVID is not going away.

That means just like with the flu we will be dealing with different strains or variants for years to come.

As such that will likely require subsequent shots even for the fully vaccinated as the months and years unfold based on how COVID is mutating.

Those who think that constantly screaming at those who haven’t been vaccinated yet will bring them along are delusional. And certainly making them the butt of Darwinism jokes isn’t going to move the dial either.

By lumping all together those who are not vaccinated as being nothing more than Neanderthals will do little to improve the numbers. Insulting people has never been an effective way at getting others to not just see the point you are making, let alone embrace it.

As for whether to wear a mask, if you haven’t noticed the ones you see in greater numbers doing so are youngsters. It is because there is no vaccine option for them. At the same time the Delta variant are making young people extremely sick and killing them. It maybe not at an outrageous pace yet but it is happening.

Kids — and not senior citizens — are now the most vulnerable.

For me it’s a no brainer as someone who is fully vaccinated and much better protected against severe consequences should I get the Delta variant. Given I can still transmit it — a conclusion experts are making even if I develop no symptoms — I will still carry a mask.

And when I’m indoors in situations where the social distancing off the spring of 2020 is not possible, I will decide whether it is appropriate to use my mask. That said if the store or venue wants all customers masked, I will comply fully.

We’re talking minor inconveniences at the most especially compared to just four months ago.

I’m not going to resort to name calling nor am I going to wear a mask 24/7 whenever I step out my front door.

But I will do what is prudent to protect the health of the most vulnerable whether it is a 92-year who has a weakened immune system or a 6-year-old that is working on strengthening their ability to repel viruses.

This is not a question of liberty but human decency.

I would not spit on somebody else.

At the same time I would expect those at the vanguard of the vaccine war that clearly are not medical experts to refrain from “verbally spitting” on the unvaccinated that have the ability to get vaccinated.

And it goes without saying as more as more people become comfortable with the risks COVID presents much as we do with the flu the self-righteous should refrain from attacking others.

It is clearly unrealistic to get down to zero or near zero deaths just as it is unacceptable to have 4,000 people die each week from something that is largely preventable.

There is a middle ground and we have to find it.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation.