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Vaccine is part of balancing act

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, was right — vaccine supplies have caught up with vaccine demand even earlier than Schumer said it would.

If only that were a good thing.

About 43% of eligible county residents have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Christine Schuyler, county health and human service director. That means about 32% of the population needs to be vaccinated for Chautauqua County to reach herd immunity — and that 32% is going to take a while to reach.

County officials plan to do education for those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, do smaller clinics and try to make the vaccine more accessible for those who haven’t had an opportunity to be vaccinated.

Those are good steps, but in our view county officials are going to need help from the state and federal governments to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has likely also given pause to some who already had doubts about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. The continued push for COVID-related restrictions even as more and more people are vaccinated could also be making some people wonder why get vaccinated at all if gathering restrictions and other mandates will remain in effect anyway.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said this week he will lift all COVID restrictions except for his state’s mask mandate, as long as cases continue to decrease and citizens keep getting vaccinated.

Lamont’s approach is a good one that should be followed in New York state. People want a COVID-19 exit strategy, but too many state and federal legislators point to a continued COVID-19 quagmire.

One way to encourage vaccinations is give people a sense that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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