José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

The percentage is frightening. Coinciding with the widespread proliferation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, more than 99.5% of recent deaths from COVID and more than 97% of hospitalizations correspond to unvaccinated people, according to figures from the United States Surgeon General.

The tragic statistics confirm what seems to be an inevitable reality: after a significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases thanks to the national vaccination campaign, there is a dramatic increase in cases of more than 170% and those of greater severity correspond specifically to people who have made a deliberate decision not to get vaccinated.

“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated people,” reacted Republican Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama, one of the states with the lowest rates of vaccination against COVID in the United States and which has registered an increase of 70% in the daily number of cases of coronavirus infections in the last week.

His Republican colleague from Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, another low-vaccination state, deplored that COVID vaccination has become a political issue. “It is a conservative state. Conservatives sometimes doubt the government. We need to fight back by giving them better information, building their confidence.”

Ron De Santis, the Republican governor of Florida, a state that accounts for 1 in 4 of the new cases, had a similar message: “vaccines are saving lives.”

It is not clear if the messages of these Republican politicians will make a difference, but the majority of Americans determined not to get vaccinated identify with the Republican party (23%) and only 2% as Democrats.

All of which begs an unavoidable question as the country prepares for the return to face-to-face classes in the fall. Should there be a federal mandate to get vaccinated?

“I believe that as long as vaccines do not have a final authorization from the FDA, there is not going to be a mandate. As long as they have an emergency authorization, there will be no mandate. I believe that once the FDA has given an authorization there will be a mandate. To start school in August there will be no mandate. For next year, I think there will be a mandate,”Dr. Carlos Del Rio, from Emory University, told me.

Is it possible to do more before a potential national mandatory mandate applies?

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a clear example: The city’s more than 300,000 workers will either be required to get vaccinated against COVID or they will need to be tested weekly. Another step: that all health centers require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID. Businesses can do the same for their entire workforce.

And to the authorities of all levels, of all political sides, the media, and each one of us in our circle of loved ones, we must not waver in our responsibility to fight with the hard data of science and the truth, misinformation and politicization of an existential public health issue.

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