To the Editor:

I appreciate Vermont Health Department commissioner Dr. Mark Levine’s honest answer at Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference this week when asked why our state’s COVID-19 rates are so high given that Vermont has the country’s highest vaccination rate.

One reason he said is that we have “low natural immunity.” Are any reporters asking the follow-up questions here? How could this be? Our vaccination rate is the highest in the country.

We were one of the best restricted states in the country during 2020-21. Proudly we wear masks while sneering at the scarlet letter of those who go barefaced in the grocery store, and we gossip about Floridians and Texans as if they are the prodigal children of our country for their low vaccination rates and anti-mask stances. How dare they endanger the rest of us?

President Joe Biden’s “patience is wearing thin” for all those non-vaxxers. In Vermont, we have missed weddings, funerals, graduations, Thanksgiving and many joyful gatherings for the common good — but we did gather to protest. Yet, we now have the highest COVID-19 case rate in the country.

We masked. We hid in our homes. My friends could not access non-COVID-19 health care they needed. I amassed copious amounts of toilet paper. I cancelled Thanksgiving. We vaccinated and we shunned other-thinkers.

Have you watched football games in Florida and Texas? Eighty thousand people gathering and no masks, no proof of vaccines. Yet, at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, at a show for a few hundred people, we are masking and forcing proof of vaccine, which might become less effective as immunity wanes, or proof of a test showing that three days ago the patron did not have COVID. Not logical.

Yet the public here seems to be thrilled that they are with like-minded people who are safe because they got the jab and have a colorful mask. We have our badge of honor on a piece of paper that shows we have apparently waning immunity, according to the CDC. Are we better off than Texas and Florida based on our COVID rates? No. Texas and Florida schools have no masks. Vermont kids do. Still, lower rates.

Texans and Floridians have been living life, attending weddings and schools and getting exposed to COVID and getting natural immunity while we were hiding and creating a culture of fear and division for the haves and have-nots of the vaccine. My solution is that we continue to encourage vaccines and masks but stop mandating and worrying about those who do not and get back to living and fostering our natural immunity.

Stay home if you feel sick. Wasn’t that always the consensus? It is time to humble ourselves, to have grace for others who think differently than we do and move forward.

Kendra Bowen


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