Editorial: Pass the science test for grownups and get the COVID booster

An FDA panel backed booster shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those at higher risk of getting the disease.

An FDA panel backed booster shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those at higher risk of getting the disease.

Michael Sohn / TNS

Remember those oh-so-long ago winter days when so many Connecticut residents pursued getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot with the passion of a gambler trying to score the Powerball jackpot?

Eventually, the long lines petered out. Health officials not only couldn’t give the shots away to some people, they couldn’t even lure them with bribes.

Now that we are well into autumn, there seems to be more interest in the launch of legal sports betting in Connecticut than in promoting booster shots to try to quell the pandemic. This is no time to gamble with lives.

Three weeks after Connecticut started offering free COVID-19 booster shots for some Pfizer recipients, not even one-third of the eligible residents over age 65 have gotten doses. The next step is anticipated federal approval of Johnson & Johnson and Moderna booster doses.

It makes some sense that Gov. Ned Lamont’s team has taken a more reserved approach to spreading the word about this first round of boosters. Only 270,000 residents qualify. But giving out a mere 85,000 raises a lot of questions about this phase of the rollout.

Are people confused? Are they reasoning that the first round of doses got the job done? Or are they being swayed by the segment of the population that resisted getting the initial vaccines?

Most adults haven’t paid this much attention to (or ignored) the subject of science since high school. But getting a COVID-19 vaccine — or denying its value — has much higher stakes than a “pass or fail” in 10th grade.

The latest attempt to dismiss the value of the vaccine comes in the wake of the death of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell died of complications of COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated, leading to some misguided reasoning that the shots don’t work.

That would be a fail. The correct answer is that Powell’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma compromised his immune system beyond what the vaccines could handle. But he caught COVID-19 from someone else.

Dr. Gwen Nichols, chief medical officer at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said Powell’s “death does not demonstrate the futility of vaccines, but instead underscores the importance of everyone getting vaccinated to protect society’s most vulnerable.”

Yes, “society’s most vulnerable” can include an American military hero. Our best defense remains as simple as an “all for one, and one for all” strategy. While we lament that a devastating number of people have still not gotten vaccinated, it’s worth pausing to celebrate that Connecticut leads the nation in vaccination rates. That has helped lead to a low infection rate of about 1.83 percent in recent days.

COVID, however, is even more stubborn than the people who flunk this adult science test. The number of patients in Connecticut hospitals due to COVID-19 hasn’t changed in three weeks.

Another winter nears. Getting vaccines and boosters may not be a sure bet to preventing the pandemic from reaching another spring, but it puts the odds in our favor.