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OUR VIEW: We should listen when local physicians rally to urge COVID-19 vaccinations

No one wants to hear it, but Troup County is trending the wrong direction in the number of COVID-19 cases it’s seeing.

Over the last two weeks, Troup County has had 117 new cases of the virus, an average of 8.35 per day. That may not seem like much — and we know some of you are rolling your eyes right now — but that’s pretty significant considering a month ago there were a lot of days with zero new cases.

The trend of the virus is starting to look a lot like the fall, when a steady increase of new cases led to the gigantic surge at the end of the year and in early January.

Only about one-fourth of Troup County is fully protected after receiving all doses of the vaccine (26%). A few more (29%) have received at least one shot.

Those numbers are lagging behind state and national numbers, and at this point, it’s clear that it probably isn’t going to change that much. The vaccine has been readily available for months, so if you are waiting to get it for some reason, it’s pretty much available anywhere you look.

A group of physicians gathered at LaFayette Square downtown on Saturday to hold a vaccine rally. Their argument was straightforward: Do the right thing and get the vaccine.

And since they are the doctors who will likely be treating us if we get sick, or end up in the hospital, then we think we should listen to them.

Many of them have watched people die from this virus and have had to break the news to grieving families.

And yes, we know the first comment on social media will be something about the virus’ survival rate. But we’ll counter with another number: Over 4 million people in the world have died from COVID-19. Four million.

The vaccine has been out long enough to show that no one is growing a third eyeball or falling over dead after getting stuck in the arm.

We understand that it’s become political, and that the messaging from each party (about everything) only complicates matters more. And that’s a shame.

We’ll say this: We typically find it’s a good thing to listen to our doctor’s advice. Their job is to keep us healthy and keep us around for as long as possible through good lifestyle choices and regular checkups.

And our local doctors have seen things throughout this pandemic that most of us can’t imagine.

Life is all about experiences. They shape all of our choices. If we go to a restaurant and it’s good, we go back. If we have a bad experience — even if everyone else says it’s amazing — we might not return.

The vaccine has turned into that too. If you know of someone who got really sick with COVID (including yourself) or died from this disease, then it feels like you are more likely to get the vaccine. If you haven’t, it feels like you aren’t as likely to get it.

Based on the trend of severe cases lately, the shot is at least the easiest way to avoid a severe case of the virus. Even with the shot, you could theoretically still get COVID (even at 95% effectiveness that means 5 people in a room of 100 vaccinated would get COVID), but you probably won’t be in the hospital. You probably won’t have severe symptoms. You probably won’t need to worry about whether or not all of your affairs are in order.

A year ago hundreds upon hundreds of people gathered outside WellStar West Georgia Medical Center to cheer on our doctors and nurses near the start of the pandemic. People held up signs and yelled messages of “thank you.”

It was a touching tribute to our local physicians who were working very hard to keep us healthy.

And they still are. There’s a reason a group of doctors felt like they needed to gather at the square Saturday to urge on vaccinations. It’s because COVID-19 numbers are increasing and vaccination numbers are stagnant. It’s because they are seeing more severe cases again and worry about what’s ahead.

Our local doctors have seen this pandemic at its absolute worst, and we think we should take their word for it. We can’t see what they’ve experienced, but we can certainly take their word for it and get a quick poke in the arm.