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NWA EDITORIAL: Giving it a shot

Lawmakers lead in taking vaccine by NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | December 23, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.
A vial of covid-19 vaccine is used Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, to vaccinate medical staff at the Northwest Health in Springdale. Frontline medical staff began receiving the vaccine. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

U.S. Sen. John Boozman rolled up his sleeve Saturday and did his best imitation of a pin cushion: He got stuck with a needle carrying the vaccine that will eventually give him immunity from covid-19.

The state's senior senator praised the "American ingenuity and investment" that led to vaccines that will, soon, give us all a chance to return some normalcy -- whatever that looks like -- to our lives.

"As our state begins to distribute doses," the former ophthalmologist said through Twitter, "I encourage Arkansans to follow the advice of our health care professionals, who have overwhelmingly expressed confidence in the vaccine. I firmly believe we can put our trust in it."

He wasn't alone. A day earlier Third District Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers got shot No. 1 of two doses of a covid-19 vaccine on Capitol Hill, becoming the first of the state's federal delegation to take a stab at protecting themselves from infection. Womack, like the other political leaders, were clearly aware of the political sensitivity of the moment. After all, most Arkansans can't get anywhere near a vaccine right now, and the state is experiencing a big flare-up of cases. Public health experts fear this week's Christmas holiday and next week's New Year's will lead to even greater spread.

We're glad to see the delegation take the vaccine, not because they're any more entitled to it than anyone else, but because Arkansans need to see their federal, state and local officials refusing to hesitate when the opportunity to receive the vaccine comes along.

Arkansans can take it "with a high degree of confidence," said First District Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, who got his first shot on Friday.

Some Americans are hesitant, worried about the safety of a quickly produced vaccine. Public health officials at every level, though, have given their backing to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the extensive process each went through before they could get Food and Drug Administration approval. Those processes include trials covering thousands of people and analysis by independent medical experts.

Those experts say the vaccines approved so far will reduce each recipient's chance of becoming infected, but even if it doesn't provide 100% protection, it will likely reduce symptoms significantly if a vaccinated person does develop covid-19. It is, they say, a far better way to achieve immunity than becoming sick through infection. If we've learned anything, it's that covid-19's impact is very individualized. There's no reason to gamble. A vaccine is a safer way to build protection against the coronavirus.

And best of all, vaccines will help protect others by reducing the number of infections by preparing vaccinated people's bodies to fight the virus when they're exposed.

We're glad elected officials from Arkansas are helping to show the way, acknowledging people's concerns but demonstrating faith in the intensive process that has led to vaccines that will end the reign of covid-19 in this pandemic.

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What’s the point?

Kudos to Arkansas’ federal elected officials for showing state residents the vaccines are nothing to fear.

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