Guest Columnist: Love our neighbors as ourselves: Get vaccinated

As Deacon of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Port Angeles, I have been following the news about COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates on the Peninsula with, frankly, a great amount of alarm. Although, I was relieved to read the most recent news from Dr. Alison Berry that the numbers are now dropping.

The medical situation is still quite frightening. The health care system here is every day on the verge of being absolutely overwhelmed. Medical personnel and their coworkers face immense amounts of stress, and patient care is unnecessarily suffering.

This is not the fault of the medical system here. Quite the opposite. We owe the staffs of the hospital and clinics in town (including their janitorial and clerical staffs, too often forgotten in the list of first responders) a great deal of gratitude for their courage and their willingness to risk their own lives and health in the time of pandemic.

It’s time to do our part as well.

We need better vaccination rates in Clallam and Jefferson counties to protect ourselves, as well as those around us. For those of us in the Christian tradition, we remember that Christ said all religious requirements that you could imagine could be fulfilled by doing two things: loving God and loving your neighbor. All of us are each other’s neighbors.

Our responsibility to our neighbors, in secular terms, is the idea of the social contract: “An implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for [the well-being of the community]” (Oxford English Dictionary.)

I understand and support the tradition of U.S. freedom that shapes our culture, but sometimes, and in limited ways, we need to not insist upon our freedoms at all cost — we must help each other.

In doing so, we help ourselves.

With full vaccination against COVID-19, we can recover from the stress we’re putting on the local and state health systems.

Conversations across the U.S. are beginning to occur concerning the need to ration health care, with ideas such as insurers not paying hospital expenses for those admitted for health care who chose to remain unvaccinated against COVID.

That is not the kind of future any U.S. citizen wants to see. We need folks, all of us, to become fully vaccinated. Everyone counts in this effort. Everyone is needed.

If you have questions about vaccinations, what’s safe and what’s available and where, you can go to the state’s page on vaccine information at doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Vaccine.

The site includes resources for those who do not have transportation and therefore cannot be vaccinated. It also includes the state hotline, 1-833- VAX-HELP (833-829-4357), followed by the # sign.

Vaccination has become a political matter.

Let’s go back to our best traditions, or at least, our best hopes.

Communities have always gathered together in times of urgency.

We bring food to each other.

We comfort each other.

We bury our dead.

I ask you to join the fight. Get vaccinated. Get your family vaccinated.

Let’s end this now.

Let’s all of us love our neighbors as ourselves, and take care of one another in love.

________

The Rev. Dr. Keith Dorwick is a Deacon at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Port Angeles/St. Swithin’s Episcopal Church, Forks.

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