In December 2019, when news of a novel coronavirus outbreak in China reached the West, officials feared the worst: a global pandemic which could infect millions and destabilize international economies. Within two years, fear became fact. During the worst months of the pandemic, however, public health experts offered hope. Newly manufactured vaccines could substantially lessen disease transmission and pave the way for some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy. Finally, we would beat COVID-19. And then “Delta” arrived — the vicious variant which is more infectious than its predecessors.
But there is one caveat hidden beneath the sensationalism of Delta news briefs. Delta is not a threat to everyone, even if, in a theoretical world, everyone caught the disease. Vaccines work. Unvaccinated persons are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 variants than those who are vaccinated, experts suggest. Those who are vaccinated may get sick, but they will most likely be much less sick than they would have been before vaccination.
From a moral standpoint, individuals who eschew vaccination may do so legitimately, but they must understand the inherent risks. The disease could affect them as benignly as the common cold, or send them to the ICU. Neither outcome should affect how society manages the crisis going forward. It’s now time to co-exist with our omnipresent foe, COVID-19 (much like the flu). Capacity restrictions and draconian lockdowns are unnecessary for the vaccinated. It’s time to permit society to return to normalcy and pursue higher ends. Protecting everyone’s health is an act of charity; but one cannot sacrifice everything for those who choose in conscience to forego a vaccine.