This opinion piece was written and submitted by Alexander and Gregory Marchal of Green River.
Sweetwater County failed. For the first time in our lives, its population failed. Failed ourselves, failed others. Every single person that refused to wear a mask, refused to social distance, or spread misinformation about COVID-19 by mouth or over social media failed the community. And that is most of us. It was easy and simple what we had to do to save lives and prevent the suffering of our family, friends, and neighbors.
Sweetwater County – like most of Wyoming – is a community that prides itself on its independence and self-reliance. We don’t need the government to tell us what to do; we can take care of ourselves and each other. Growing up my brother and I thought this was true. We trusted the community and admired its independence. Then the pandemic hit and our true colors were shown. As soon as ‘our’ way of life was even mildly threatened people prioritized personal comfort over the lives of others and spread lies and misinformation to justify their greed. They didn’t care about the community like we were led to believe our entire lives, they just were too stubborn to be told what to do. And it was the entire community that paid the price.
The pandemic is now in a new chapter, and the end is in sight. It takes one collective decision to end it. Only one. To get vaccinated. If Sweetwater County collectively gets vaccinated, then the virus cannot spread anymore, and life gets back to normal. Look at this as a do-over on all the times we failed to prevent the virus from spreading. And yet, many people are refusing to get vaccinated. They are saying it is a government conspiracy, that we don’t know enough about the vaccines, or that we can’t trust scientists.
So, let’s put it in terms that Sweetwater County can relate to. Any time a new operator gets hired at the mines they need to learn how to operate machinery. They have no idea how the machine works; they may not care. All they care about is doing their job. For help they do not ask other new hires or friends that do not work at the plant. The best person to ask is the operator who has been with the mine for 30 years and knows the machine like a child.
That is how scientists are about their research. They spent 12 years in college and have been working for decades since to learn and study vaccines. All that learning and understanding has been put into the available vaccines. None of us are experts on vaccine development, and most likely neither is the person on social media that you read about who disagrees with the vaccine rollout, even if they are related to the medical field. There are only a few thousand people in the world that actually understand vaccine development.
So, what can we do? Trust people to do their job by doing ours. Because getting vaccinated is a helluva lot easier than developing a vaccine. If you are uncertain please do not listen to the social media guru that tells you to wait, no matter how believable they are or how close of friends they are. The best source of information on the safety and efficacy of the available vaccines are the published, publicly available trial results from the approved vaccines. These are peer reviewed, and independently audited by both the government and independent commissions. From them you can easily draw your own conclusions by using science rather than emotion. To make things easier we have given the links to all three trial results at the end of the letter.
We failed as a community once. We don’t need the government to try and force us to not fail again. We need to prove to ourselves and each other that we can get out of this mess on our own and not mess up again. And all it takes is doing our part by getting vaccinated. That way events like the fair be celebrated the way they were two years ago. And most importantly that way we can stop the suffering of our community.
Johnson & Johnson: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034201