John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Here we go again.

Just when it appeared we could crawl out from under the pandemic, along comes a more destructive mutation. Thanks to the Delta variant (also known as B.1.617.2 for those of you keeping score at home), COVID-related cases are suddenly becoming more contagious and deadly than ever.

All things considered, some might find it hard to believe that we are even debating whether to get vaccinated. To which I can only reply, all things considered can be a relative concept.

Over the years, I’ve seen there are certain non-negotiables about made up minds. One is that they are all but impossible to change. Another is that they much prefer being reassured to being challenged.

Maybe it’s a survival instinct? I don’t know. What I do know is that such stubbornness is both real and pervasive. That’s especially true when it comes to politics. And whether or not we want to admit it, the vax debate has become very political. Need proof?  Just look at where vaccinations are — and are not — taking place.

The five states with the highest percentage of fully-vaccinated residents are Vermont (67%), Massachusetts (63%), Maine (also 63%), Connecticut (62%) and Rhode Island (61%), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for the states with the lowest figures? They are Alabama (33%), Mississippi (34%), Arkansas (35%), Wyoming (36%) and Louisiana (36%).

The CDC numbers validate what most of us already know: People living in Democrat-majority states are far more likely to get vaccinated than those in Republican-majority states.

If that doesn’t bother you, maybe the catalyst behind it should. For what that also tells us is that a person’s likelihood of getting vaccinated depends largely on the messaging he or she receives from those with a similar political orientation.

And in case you didn’t notice, the two political parties — at least until recently — have been doling out some very different talking points.

To be sure, this debate is becoming less strident. But the fact remains that many millions of people are against getting vaccinated because fellow tribesmen have convinced them that to do so is not only wrong and dangerous, it’s somehow unpatriotic.

Under such circumstances, it’s a fairly safe bet that statistics, screaming and nudging arguments from outsiders will do little to convince the unconvinced.

But you know what might? Watching unvaccinated loved ones become sick or perish. Sadly, the death bed can be a real eye opener.

For while our friends at FOX and CNN may have something to say about what’s being developed in drug companies, deadly viruses couldn’t care less. COVID in its various flavors is more than content to simply live off defenseless organisms.

That’s a reality way too many people are about to learn the hard way.

 John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.