UNCP educator completes transformative educational leadership program



As 2021 dawned, there was a sense of optimism, that things would get better. This was led by the announcement that three promising COVID-19 vaccines were ready for distribution. Our most powerful weapon in the fight against the pandemic has become a reality. We started off strong, but now, well into the middle of 2021, we’re taking steps back, and it really doesn’t have to be that way.

We spent a year lamenting how we missed “normal” life, going to movies and concerts, visiting loved ones and not having to wear masks. In April, I had received my second injection and I was more than surprised to see the businesses reopen quickly. I enjoyed unmasked social events and this renewed sense of life. That is until I am told at the beginning of this month that I should put my mask back inside. Why? Because despite having a solution to the problem that afflicts us, half of the population says no.

This is why we cannot have good things.

It’s always difficult to get people to agree on something. If you have kids and you’ve ever tried to choose a meal that everyone likes, then you know what I mean. You can’t please everyone. But when the decision is the one that saves lives and protects people, it’s hard to believe that some cannot be convinced. Currently, in Robeson County, only 1/4 of the population has received the blow. I understand there are extenuating circumstances, but it’s still disappointing in the end that we can’t all come together to do what’s in the best public health interest.

As new strains of the virus mutate and grow stronger, medical facilities are running out of beds and around half of the nation’s population remains undecided or fiercely opposed to vaccination. We have all heard stories of people who refused the vaccine, got infected, and begged him from their hospital beds. I have listened to some of the most blatant defenses and reasoning for refusing the vaccine. Part of it would be laughable if it was all about laughing.

It’s not funny. This is why we cannot have good things. This is the reason why we are seeing more restrictions put in place, more application of the wearing of masks, more unnecessary deaths and soon warrants. I have seen the unvaccinated thumb their noses at freedom, human rights, and mistrust of science. And I’ve seen vaccinees arrogantly attempting to beat others in their own right with Facebook memes and unnecessary pleas to do the right thing.

This is an unvaccinated pandemic, and it has become a personal responsibility. The vaccine is free and readily available, and there is also enough information accessible for people looking to “do the research” and make an informed decision. Everyone should feel free to make a choice, but the right one is very clear: get vaccinated.

I fully understand that there are vaccinated people who are still infected. Many anti-vaccines argued months ago that the shot was not 100% effective, and to their credit, they were right; however, there is enough qualitative and anecdotal data to confirm that it works. I have spoken personally with health officials who confirm that vaccinated patients do much better than their unvaccinated peers.

Coincidentally, I spoke with a history teacher who reminded me that the beautiful republic we live in was founded on the principle of virtue – not for self-interest but for the common good. I can understand the skepticism some feel that the vaccine is still not approved by the FDA; However, when you look at the good the vaccine has done – and there is research to back it up – it seems extremely counterintuitive to be so afraid of progress. Conspiracy theories aside, the FDA is a slow and methodical agency, but it also didn’t reject the vaccine for reasons of concern. In addition, the vaccine was not “rushed”. The technology has been in the making for over 30 years.

The truth is – and this is scientifically factual – that vaccines are over 95% effective in lowering the risk of serious medical events like extreme illness and hospitalization. I’m sure there are many cases where people got infected but didn’t show symptoms because the vaccine did what it was supposed to do. In Robeson County, more than 95% of hospitalizations were unvaccinated, causing massive bed shortages and delaying emergency room visits by several hours.

This is why we cannot have good things – the personal interests of individuals must not take precedence over the security of the country. I think of a friend who had to take her young daughter to the emergency room, to be greeted by a too long and unnecessary wait. It is unthinkable.

I am not going to pass moral judgment on anyone for not having received the vaccine because I think there are legitimate reasons, health precautions being one, not to comply with it. However, I draw the line when it comes to political division – that’s another reason we can’t have good things. Ignoring the science, engaging in confirmation bias, “seeking out” marginal and unverified sources, and spreading misinformation have all led to bad decisions. Unfortunately, not getting the vaccine for political – not scientific reasons – just doesn’t make sense.

It is even more confusing when a prominent United States Senator admitted that if he had not taken the vaccine, he is sure his illness would have been much worse. It is even more ironic that some refuse to be vaccinated because of allegiance to our former president, who was also vaccinated.

No one wants to be “forced” to get vaccinated. I understand. No one wants forced intubation either. Unfortunately, too many reports have documented patients begging for the vaccine before being told the option was too late. I’ve heard people say they’re hesitant because “they don’t know what’s in it,” despite mountains of information explaining it in detail. I have heard people say that they are concerned about the long term side effects of the vaccine. However, only a handful have been reported, and they far exceed the side effects left by the virus itself.

Consider what the pandemic is doing to education. Think about the time missed in class, the gap in educational attainment, and the poor quality of education students received in the past year. I consider the education of a child to be a good thing. Can we agree?

It’s ironic that people are unhappy with the economy and the impact of the restrictions right now, they don’t understand that their indecisiveness even in getting vaccinated is part of the reason we can’t have good things. . We will never be 100% vaccinated, but the more we are, the safer we are all and the faster we can get back to good things.



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