Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Grim numbers underscore urgency to get vaccinated

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Now that the supply of vaccine doses available is meeting current demand, it’s time for those in the business community to impress upon all the urgency of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Recent new COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are beyond thresholds Gov. Jay Inslee had earlier set for Spokane County to remain in Phase 3 of his plan to reopen the economy. However, earlier this week, Inslee set a two-week statewide pause on rolling back counties to more restrictive phases.

That gives us a little more time to take urgent action to get vaccinated and to implore others to do the same, so we can turn these grim metrics around for good.

Medical experts are saying vaccine hesitancy could give the virus time to mutate, yet even with new variants arising, vaccines remain our best shot at achieving herd immunity or at least reducing the virus into a controllable threat.

As of Sunday, May 2, less than 40% of Washingtonians are fully vaccinated. Spokane County is lagging behind that with only 26% of its population fully vaccinated.

We need those numbers to be much higher so that we can continue on the path to a new era of normalcy in businesses, schools, and social activities.

For those hesitant to get the vaccine, it’s time to put away fear or politics. We already know that vaccinations are working to slow the spread of the virus in populations with high vaccination rates, such as care facilities.

Regarding side effects, commonly reported discomfort is a manifestation that the vaccine is doing what it’s supposed to do, and that’s to prepare our bodies to fend off the real virus.

For the time being, we still need to observe social distancing, masking, and hygiene protocols to slow the spread of the virus. But with the advent of new, even more highly contagious strains, we’re also realizing we can’t wait this virus out.

If you haven’t been vaccinated, go to the state Department of Health’s vaccine locator website and make an appointment. If you’re fully vaccinated, or have started the process, help others to do so. Check with family, loved ones, and associates to see if they need help or encouragement.

Employers should ensure employees have time for vaccinations and access to them. Depending on industry sector, they could consider further incentives such as transportation, cash, gifts, or paid time off. The Spokane Regional Health District has a Vaccine for Businesses web page through which Spokane-area employers can schedule mobile vaccination clinics to come to their workplaces.

This is no time to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best while local officials and business groups appeal to the governor not to reinstate business-killing restrictions. Ultimately, the fight shouldn’t be between the state and local interests. The virus is our common enemy.

It’s up to us to get vaccinated and encourage enough people to do so to quell the next surge, so we can protect our community and restore our economy.

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