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Hope for a new year

Following on the heels of such a troublesome year, the bar has been set pretty low for 2021. The world’s not asking for home runs. For most of us, a return to normalcy will do just fine, thank you.

During last Saturday’s drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic for frontline health care workers at UH-Maui, several senior doctors were debating whether the coronavirus pandemic had reached the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. Either way they sliced it, it sounded a heck of a lot better than last spring’s beginning of the beginning.

We had such high hopes for 2020. It was to be the year with the clarity of 20/20 vision. For its first couple months, it lived up to those expectations. Things were humming along until COVID-19 came out of nowhere to give 2020 a big fat poke in the eye. Nearly overnight, the world changed.

Along with the hardships and losses caused by the pandemic, there were lessons in making do and being thankful for what we have. The star-crossed year will also be remembered for its political, social and economic strife. Contested election, record unemployment, lost businesses, killings and riots in the streets — 2020 was never short on headlines.

So what can be done to ensure 2021 exceeds a historically bad year? Snuffing out the pandemic is a good place to start. With cases rising on Maui, we are not out of the woods. Wearing masks, washing hands, limiting contacts and following other protocols that keep our community safe will be with us for a while longer. The end is in sight, however. Our magic bullets have begun to arrive.

Vaccines are the game changers that will allow society to get back in the saddle. School, sports, concerts, graduations, unmasked smiles and a thriving service industry are just a few things that will return once we reach herd immunity.

The key is to get an overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated. Our courageous frontline health care workers and first responders have been leading by example from the start and they did it again last week. When they rolled up their sleeves to receive their shots they showed that vaccinations are safe and necessary.

Just imagine being immune to COVID-19. Won’t that be a powerful, liberating feeling? If you are reticent, just know that adverse side effects are extremely rare. There is a lot of bad information out there; always check the source and confirm the claims they make. It rarely takes more than a few clicks to find they are bogus.

Given a choice between unknown conspiracy theorists and Maui’s frontline heroes, we choose to stand with the heroes, the people willing to put their lives on the line for us.

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2021 one to remember for all the right reasons.

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