I’m getting more than a bit bummed about the weather.

It’s the middle of summer, yet we’ve rarely seen the sun in the last couple of weeks, and not at all the last three days as I write this. Rather depressing, considering we get a vast majority of our sunshine during the brief three months of summer.

At this point Beaver Creek is way out of its banks, with more torrential rains in the forecast. This does not bode well for many farmers.

I have seen a personal benefit to all the rain, though – I haven’t had to water the garden or our landscaping plants for a while. But the rain also comes with a downside, as the grass is growing so fast you can almost see it in action stretching toward the dull gray sky.

It rains nearly every day and it’s too wet to mow, and on the rare days it doesn’t rain I’ve been busy. Soon the grass in my yard will be so tall we could lose young children and small livestock. Perhaps there is a market for an alfalfa hay crop, but I will have to hire a farmer with the equipment to cut and bale it.

Beyond the dismal damp skies, however, there is a metaphorical cloud over our heads that is very much on my mind – COVID-19, and more specifically the Delta variant. Places with high vaccination rates are doing well right now with the virus, but not so much places with low vaccination rates.

Some states with vaccination rates in the 30s have seen their COVID-19 cases spike significantly. Alabama, which ranks dead last in the country for vaccination rates, saw COVID-19 cases rise by 159 percent over the week ending July 11. And Arkansas, with a rate not much better, has seen a 385 percent increase in the virus in just three weeks.

Unfortunately, other low-rate states are not all that far behind.

Personally I’m concerned that Williams County will face a COVID spike, based on our low vaccination rate of only 36 percent, right on par with Alabama and Arkansas.

I am greatly enjoying the freedom from masks, and the return to normal summer activities, even if we’ve been having to dodge the raindrops. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johson & Johnson vaccines have made that happen, but for now our victory over the virus is riding on the percentage of people who get the shots.

Whether to get the vaccine is a personal choice, and I would never support forced vaccination. Some people have health conditions that preclude them getting the shot. And the vaccines are not totally without side effects – but what medicine or treatment really is.

One fact is abundantly clear – the vaccines have a high rate of protection, and the risk of side effects is much lower than the risk of death or health-robbing side effects that can come with COVID-19.

Beyond the increased risk of death and debilitation, dangerous variants of the virus are more likely the lower the rate of vaccination is. So although the decision whether or not to take the shot is a personal one, the ramifications of not getting vaccinated extend to those around you as well.

I follow the science closely, and I hope as many people as possible get the shot. Years of research are behind the vaccines, and overall they are shown to be very safe.

The other day I saw a report estimating that the vaccines have saved 279,000 lives thus far. That’s a lot of lives and a lot of heartache spared, especially if one of those lives was your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, son or daughter.

My hope is we can raise that number of lives saved many times over, and get the COVID-19 rate as close to zero as we can.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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