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It shocks and saddens me that the majority of Chattanoogans refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. I'm fully aware that some folks have physical limitations that prevent them from getting it, but for the majority, it's a choice.

People in America and around the world are still dying from COVID-19. Some countries are experiencing higher numbers than ever with the delta variant being more contagious and dangerous.

If an unvaccinated person contracts the virus and becomes ill, they have to know it's because of the choice they made. The part that really upsets me is that these people are keeping the virus alive and passing it to others, including children.

Only one of my grandchildren is over the age of 12, and she chose to be vaccinated immediately after she became eligible. My other grandchildren, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, cannot be vaccinated, and it terrifies me.

Despite being very careful, my family continues to wear masks because there's always a risk of contracting the virus. Being vaccinated doesn't mean we can't contract COVID-19, but it does mean the odds of getting really ill or dying from it are very low. However, if vaccinated people do contract the virus, they can pass it on.

I have a face mask that says, "I've been vaccinated." Several people have asked me why I wear a mask if I've been vaccinated, and I tell them it's because my grandchildren have not.

I had hoped that when the vaccine became available and people qualified for the shot, the majority of America's population would be vaccinated against the disease that has, thus far, killed around 600,000 fellow Americans. I was wrong.

I don't want my grandchildren to get COVID-19, and that's the bottom line. Children do contract the disease. Despite the numbers being low compared to adults, the reality is that hundreds of children have died from COVID-19 and many have been hospitalized. What adult wants to take responsibility for the death or illness of a child that could have easily been prevented with a vaccine?

School starts back in six weeks. How many students come from households where parents refuse to be vaccinated? How many of these children, along with their parents, will be diagnosed with COVID-19, and how many of these children will infect their classmates?

We are so fortunate to live in a country where COVID-19 vaccinations are not only readily available but are free of charge.

Some people have made it political, and it's not political. Both Trump and Biden have been vaccinated, for example.

I can only hope that unvaccinated people change their minds and choose to be vaccinated. Scientists worked around the clock, month after month, to develop the vaccine to save our lives. Scientists, you realize, are the same people who developed the prescriptions you may take every day to give you a better life, as well as the treatments you've had for cancer, heart attacks, liver disease and other medical conditions. They're working day and night to cure these diseases, as well as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, kidney disease, literally everything that threatens one's health, including COVID-19.

When I finally qualified to be vaccinated and received my first shot at the CARTA Bus Barn, I sat in my car afterward and cried happy, grateful tears. I was so thankful to live in a country that wanted me to be safe and provided me the life-saving vaccination at no cost.

Still, people are getting sick and dying because they're opting out of being vaccinated. I will never understand why.

Email Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com.

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