Douglas County Fire District No. 2 Lt. Mike Merlino prepares a coronavirus vaccine shot at a drive-thru clinic in Roseburg in January.

The only way we are going to see life return to some normalcy is with residents choosing to get vaccinated.

Those aren’t our words, they’re from Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, Douglas County’s Public Health Officer who served in the U.S. Navy, is a longtime pediatric physician, and who has been the vice president for clinical effectiveness at Mercy Medical Center, the president of the Oregon Medical Association, and the CEO of local health centers.

But he’s right. There’s only one way out of this pandemic and it’s through vaccinations and mask-wearing.

You might despise the mandates doled out by the state, disagree with the metrics for reopening schools, or question the constitutionality of being forced to wear a mask. You might think the entire pandemic is overblown, you might oppose how data is collected and analyzed, and you might have a strong opinion of who’s at fault. And you have every right to ask tough questions, question the government’s effectiveness, and curse every time you have to turn around because your mask is still hanging from your rearview mirror.

But none of that changes how we’re going to get out of this, because the coronavirus, like all other viruses and diseases, doesn’t care about our political views, our status, or our opinions. It does care, however, whether you’ve been vaccinated.

If you haven’t, it’ll continue to spread gleefully through our communities, kill the elderly, and give your government fodder to make the very decisions you find questionable. If you have, you’ll help fast-track the disease’s demise, give the elderly a chance to see their loved ones in person, help your neighbors get back to work, and help us all get closer to walking fresh-faced into supermarkets and restaurants.

Vaccines are safe and effective tools that the world has deployed against numerous diseases with stellar results — it’s why if someone sneezes next to you at the store you don’t worry about catching polio, rubella or diphtheria. You just have to worry about the common cold.

We already know that the Pfizer vaccine is 52% effective after the first dose and 95% after the second, and locally we’ve already seen this play out.

During a local outbreak at a nursing home facility, 90% of staff and patients who were vaccinated were protected from the disease. That would put you fourth on the NBA’s all-time free throw percentage list ahead of Rick Berry, Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups and Damian Lillard.

We like those chances.

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