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Why not take the steps with the best chance of success?

Local school districts are doing the right thing in complying with the governor’s mandate that all staff be vaccinated for COVID-19. Parents should also do their part in making sure their children go to school with masks — also part of the governor’s mandate — both to keep themselves safe and to protect other students, especially those too young to be vaccinated.

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As hospital intensive care units overflow with mostly unvaccinated COVID patients, it is becoming more and more difficult to understand the continued resistance to vaccinations and masks among a vocal minority of the population.

The vaccines, now administered to more than 200 million Americans, have proven remarkably effective in preventing serious illness and keeping people out of the hospital, even the small percentage who have contracted COVID after being vaccinated. The vaccines were thoroughly tested on tens of thousands of individuals before being made available, and serious side effects have been exceedingly rare.

We know, because researchers and experts in epidemiology have told us, that the vaccines work.

We know, based on the best available science, that wearing masks in public places adds another layer of protection that reduces the chance of spreading the virus between people, whether vaccinated or, in the case of children younger than 12, unvaccinated. The most recent variant of the virus is far more infectious than previous strains, and that is driving both the increasing hospitalizations of severely ill people and the reissuing of mask rules.

Resistance to being told we must do something for our own good is natural and understandable. But the consequences, in this case, can be fatal.

Why not get behind these reasonable directives because the science tells us they have the greatest likelihood of stopping this pandemic? If we all do, and the cases drop again, we can all get back to something approaching normal. Even if you doubt those measures will work, what is the harm in trying?

The risk in refusing to participate is all too clear.