Against a backdrop of hundreds of anti-vaccine demonstrators, most unmasked and close together, in Waikiki this evening, a small group of clergy and lay people of faith stood together on Kapahulu Avenue to bear witness to the basic teaching of all religions: love your neighbor. Be kind to strangers. Do no harm. In our pandemic-burdened world at this moment in time, that means we need to vaccinate against COVID-19.
Hawaii’s healthcare system is stretched to near breaking point. Doctors and nurses and hospital workers at every level are burdened by the onslaught of unvaccinated people arriving for urgently needed treatment. One lawmaker, Senator Karl Rhoads tweeted this grim update:
Hilo Medical Center, Adventist Health Castle, Queens Hostpital – Punchbowl, Wahiawa General Hospital, Pali Momi Medical Center, Straub Medical Center, Kuakini Medical Center are above their licensed ICU bed capacity. – Hilton Raethel (@HealthcareHAH) to the @HawaiiSenate
“Hawaii is officially out of ICU beds, 224 patients & 223 beds. Don’t get sick. And you might want to think about getting vaccinated” he says.
The freedom to choose has run up against the reality of people who need medical attention not getting the treatment they need because of COVID infections that are sending hundreds of unvaccinated people to our hospitals. Young healthy people who pride themselves on their strong immune system have been shocked into belief in the vaccines after being laid low–painfully–by COVID. Well-known and respected environmental advocate Doorae Shin is one of those people. She has gone public with her story in the hope of persuading others to get vaccinated. Her candid account of what she went through and how she thinks about the vaccine now is very helpful and hopefully will change some minds and hearts to do the right thing and get vaccinated.