While many students and young people in South Dakota laugh and brush off the idea of ever getting COVID-19 and the possible implications, more and more young people die every day of the disease. Yet virtually 0% of the nearly 1,700 people dying every day are currently vaccinated.
Despite all of this, people still fight and argue against getting the shot, even going as far as quitting their jobs as a result of vaccine mandates.
When someone works directly with COVID-19 patients daily and sees the aftermath of the disease, no words can explain the frustration and disappointment with the anti-vaccine rhetoric.
Every day in South Dakota, nurses are seeing more and more young people come into the hospital with COVID-19. Some are requiring nearly 60 liters of oxygen simply to survive, and others are being put on ventilators despite sometimes being as young as 19 years old.
Meanwhile, people are protesting outside of hospitals against the newly placed vaccine protocols. The disconnect between the two is unimaginable. You wish you could take all those people into these COVID-19 units and show them the insanity and aftermath of this disease, but after so many sob stories and pleading to those who refuse, you just cannot do it anymore.
Yet, as the nearly 50% of South Dakotans refusing to get the vaccine continue to refuse, hospital staff are still continuing to fully gown up and begin another day of watching the unvaccinated die. The disease continues to mutate as it passes around and takes over those who were given the chance to save themselves.
While many parts over the course of this disease have been extremely frustrating, watching people die in front of you, even when it could have been easily prevented, has got to take the cake.
Often, these effects of the unvaccinated are not only felt by adult-aged persons. While anti-vaccine adults continue to bathe in their ignorance and ignore the tragedy around them, those who cannot get the vaccine are forced to face it.
An eight-year-old girl in Sioux Falls cannot go to grocery stores, cannot feel safe in school, and does not feel safe being around groups of people because she is immunocompromised. She knows that if she gets the disease, there is a very high chance she will not make it out alive. As her family drives by the protesters outside of Sanford Hospital, she bawls into my chest knowing what that means for her.
There are no words that can explain that level of hurt and disappointment in our community. The worst part? She is not the only child thinking these thoughts.
South Dakota has a solution to change the path of destruction following COVID-19. It’s simple: get the vaccine.