Earlier this month, our country crossed another grim milestone in this pandemic: 700,000 of our fellow Americans have now died because of COVID-19. That number, tragically, includes 174 of our neighbors — real people, with real lives — here in Lynchburg. And we would have lost more, were it not for the heroic efforts of Lynchburg’s health care community.
To our doctors, nurses, PAs, EMTs, hospital and administrative staff and volunteers — we thank you. For almost two years now, you have cared for us under exceptionally difficult conditions. You have assumed monumental risks and worked incredibly hard, and while words of thanks can never measure up to what you have given, please know that our community will forever be indebted to you. If there is a bright spot in this pandemic, it’s you.
To our vaccinated neighbors — we thank you. Thank you for taking responsibility for your health and the health of our community. Thank you for heeding the science which has demonstrated that vaccines are safe and effective and that, beyond any doubt, the surest way we defeat this virus and get our businesses, schools and economy back on track is by getting vaccinated. And thank you for getting your booster shot, when and if it is recommended to you by your health care provider.
And finally, to our unvaccinated neighbors, who are eligible for the vaccine — we need you. We need you to get vaccinated — for your health, for the health of those you love and care about and for our community. We understand that you might be fearful or skeptical of the vaccine. We also understand that, sadly, this pandemic has been politicized and used as another tool to divide us.
But here’s the thing — there are unvaccinated people right now in Lynchburg General Hospital on ventilators because of COVID-19, and some of them may die. There’s nothing political in that. It’s just the hard reality.
Vaccines work. That’s why we got ours and why over 60% of Virginians have, too. Vaccines are most effective when everyone gets them. That was true with smallpox and polio, and it’s true with COVID-19. We kill a virus by denying it a host.
So, we need you, unvaccinated Lynchburg, to stand with us and get the shot. If not for yourself, the science, or those already lost, get it for those you love and who are still alive.
Because no one else needs to die.
MaryJane Tousignant-Dolan is mayor of Lynchburg. Beau Wright is vice mayor of Lynchburg.