Why should you get a COVID-19 vaccine? Because they’re safe, effective, and it means you’ll be able to ditch that mask you hate and start getting back to normal.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that once 70% of the commonwealth’s adults are fully vaccinated, the requirement to wear a mask in public will be lifted. As of Thursday morning, we’re close to 47% fully vaccinated and over 66% with at least one dose, according to the CDC, so at our current pace we could hit that 70% mark as soon as next month.

Not surprisingly, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania have declined dramatically in recent weeks. Since hitting a recent peak of 5,000 new cases a day in mid-April, the rate of new cases is down nearly 60%. The commonwealth is averaging just 2,064 new cases a day, the lowest rate of new infections in nearly seven months.

Earlier this week, we got even more good news about the vaccines from Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. During a hearing on Capitol Hill, Fauci testified that the vaccine’s effectiveness in the real world has actually been better than the highly-touted results of their clinical trials, according to multiple studies done in the U.S. and other countries.

“Often, when you get into the real world, the effectiveness of vaccines falls short of the original efficacy,” Fauci said. “That is not at all the case with the vaccines for COVID-19, because the real-world effectiveness is even more impressive than the results of the clinical trials.”

And despite what you hear from people like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the vaccines are overwhelmingly safe. The U.S. has administered over 264 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and so far the CDC hasn’t established a link to any deaths, aside from three deaths from extremely rare blood clots possibly connected to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

In comparison, roughly 5,000 out of every million people infected with COVID-19 are killed by the virus, according to Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Yet there’s still some apathy and hesitancy about the vaccines in the U.S., for a multitude of reasons. For some it’s political, based on the idea news outlets like CNN used the COVID-19 to drive former President Donald Trump out of office. For others, it’s simply a fear of needles or the inability to secure the time off to go get a shot.

There’s also something New York Times writer David Leonhardt has described as “vaccine alarmism,” the idea that because the vaccines aren’t 100% effective, vaccinated people shouldn’t really change their pandemic behavior much, even after they get a shot.

Fortunately, this is becoming less of a concern as states like Pennsylvania create incentives for people to get vaccinated (though we haven’t yet adopted Ohio’s idea of a weekly $1 million vaccine lottery). Everyone who has been vaccinated should simply be telling friends and relatives that have yet to roll up their sleeves all the good news about vaccines and how a simple little prick can get us back to normal.

Or as former First Lady Michelle Obama explained earlier this week, “You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine. Get all of it. Finish it up. And then we can talk.”

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