Editor's Letter: Why I'm Getting Vaccinated
Editor in Chief Dan Wakeford introduces PEOPLE's 'Why I'm Getting Vaccinated' campaign
There are things I've liked about being stuck at home in the last year: slowing down, the extra 30 minutes in bed, finding time to color coordinate my wardrobe and roll my socks the way Marie Kondo says. But when it comes down to it, I am desperate to get back to my old life.
I want to see my family again (especially my new niece Sienna and my parents), go to a Broadway show, eat out in a clattering restaurant and karaoke afterward — and brainstorm with my amazing colleagues in a real office instead of shouting over one another on a video call before my WiFi goes down.
The COVID-19 vaccines are giving us all hope that soon we'll be able to return to the activities we love and — most important — curb the devastating death toll from the disease. But as Dr. Walter Orenstein, the former director of the National Immunization Program, who worked on eradicating polio, said, "Vaccines don't save lives. Vaccinations save lives." The point being we can have the best medicine, but it only works if people take it.
Obviously it is an individual's right to choose whether to get vaccinated. But as recently as November, 39% of people said they probably or definitely wouldn't get the shots, according to the Pew Research Center. That could dramatically impact efforts to curb the virus. To help change that number, PEOPLE is launching a campaign: Why I'm Getting Vaccinated.
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In the coming weeks we'll ask notable figures what's motivating them to get the shots and provide the latest information and resources — especially as health experts work out distribution efforts. Much like Elvis Presley when he got his polio vaccine backstage before an airing of The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, we want to be a force for good and do our part to help get America back to hugs, sleepovers and going to the movies.
In addition to PEOPLE's efforts, our friends at Comcast NBCUniversal have launched planyourvaccine.com to help make it easier to find out where you can go to get vaccinated. As Al Roker, who on Jan. 19 got his shot on Today, says, "We're all in this together."
Right now we are in a race against time as new, highly transmissible strains of the virus are emerging and the death toll in America has topped more than 400,000. It will be a few months until it will be my turn to get my first dose, but I can't wait. Someday I'll get to Marie Kondo all those masks I have.