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EDITORIAL: No turkey dinner for you till you get your COVID-19 shot

EDITORIAL: No turkey dinner for you till you get your COVID-19 shot

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The one heart-stopping moment of Republican Congressman Pete Sessions’ rambunctious town hall meeting last week came when Dr. James Ferguson, a local pediatrician introduced by Sessions, told a crowd openly hostile to mandatory vaccinations that the deadly, highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus will not only accelerate in spread after Thanksgiving but continue throughout the next decade. And, he said matter-of-factly, “you will all get COVID.”

Whether one survives, he said, will depend on various factors.

Dr. Ferguson didn’t really press the pluses of vaccination before the rowdy bunch in the University High School auditorium, but a new report by the Texas Department of State Health Services neatly does so, thank you. Covering COVID-19 statistics from Jan. 15, 2021, to Oct. 1, the report showed our state’s unvaccinated in all age groups were 45 times more likely to contract the coronavirus bug than fully vaccinated people — and 40 times more likely to die.

The report is the state’s first statistical analysis of the real-world impact of vaccination against COVID-19 in Texas. “This analysis quantifies what we’ve known for months,” said Chief State Epidemiologist Jennifer Shuford, M.D. “The COVID-19 vaccines are doing an excellent job of protecting people from getting sick and from dying from COVID-19. Vaccination remains the best way to keep yourself and the people close to you safe from this deadly disease.”

By week’s end, three Republican judges on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sent a somewhat different message, halting the Biden administration’s so-called vaccination mandate of companies of 100 or more employees. (As proposed, the mandate does allow for medical or religious exemptions.) The court ruling said the mandate overstepped the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s authority, creating hardships for businesses.

“The mandate imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply and threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests or hit the road,” the judges wrote, sidestepping OSHA’s original charge by Congress to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.”

Clearly, this ivory tower ruling is contrived to snake around rule of law to reach a desired outcome, even casting doubts on the “supposedly ‘grave danger’” of the pandemic. That’s an interesting twist of the facts. There’s nothing “supposed” about a rampaging virus that has claimed the lives of more than 761,000 Americans, often needlessly, in less than two years, and has infected nearly 47 million Americans in that time. Many who survived have lingering and debilitating medical conditions.

Yes, COVID-19 numbers in Texas have been in decline in recent weeks. But if we can continue along the lines of what Dr. Ferguson told us, Texas may well repeat the pattern of fall 2020 and see another surge when cool weather drives us indoors and families gather for the holidays. An informal survey by the Trib spotlights one hope: Persistent family members show remarkable success in convincing household holdouts to cry “uncle” and get vaccinated. They should now redouble their lifesaving magic.

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