Vaccination rates are up, but holdouts ensure the virus will stick around

As of last week, more than 200 million Americans had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, constituting around 60% of the population. It’s an important milestone, but so is the milestone of the nation’s 800,000th coronavirus death this week. With a new variant on the rise and a sizable minority of the country still holding out against the vaccines, infection rates continue to rise. What the U.S. is seeing now is what doctors are calling “an epidemic of the unvaccinated.” And it’s creating what psychologists call “pandemic fatigue” throughout society.

As the crisis drags on, it’s important to remember that it is almost entirely those holdouts who are driving infection and death rates today. It’s been said repeatedly, but it can’t be said enough: They are risking their lives and prolonging the pandemic.


According to The Washington Post, an average of more than 1.9 million vaccine doses per day were administered last week, an increase over the previous week by about 35%. That’s good news, but it doesn’t change the fact that coronavirus deaths are up as well. That doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working — they absolutely do work; there’s no ambiguity about that in the data. What it means is that, without the vaccines, the death rates would be soaring far higher.

The data is also clear about who is dying: The dead consist almost entirely of those who refused vaccination. No vaccine is perfect, and vaccinated people can still catch the virus, but their cases tend to be less severe and far less likely to land them in the hospital or the morgue. A recent study in Texas found that unvaccinated people of all ages in that state are 40 times more likely than vaccinated people to die from the disease.

How such a sizable number of Americans can look at these facts and still refuse vaccination is a mystery that psychologists and historians will ponder in years to come.

The weird intersection of public health and politics throughout the pandemic has prolonged the crisis to the point that society is starting to suffer pandemic fatigue.

With year three of the pandemic approaching, and the omicron variant now spreading through much of the country, the danger is real that even more exasperated Americans are going to give up on precautions like vaccination and masks.

To those who feel that impulse, we would point out that this crisis could be all but over by now if not for the vaccination holdouts.

They are the ones giving the virus new opportunities to spread, making it necessary for the rest of society to continue the precautions.

They are the reason this isn’t over yet. Frustration over this seemingly never-ending pandemic is understandable — but that’s where it should be focused.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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