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What a long, strange trip this coronavirus pandemic has been.

It’s not as if our year of coronavirus distress wasn’t already uniquely odd.

Death, sickness, lockdowns, layoffs, social distancing, masks and more masks have turned this country upside down since March 2020.

Now there’s another oddity.

Six months ago, people were dreaming about pharmaceutical companies magically creating effective vaccines in record time. Now that this medical miracle is a reality, too many of them are either reluctant to and/or refusing to be vaccinated.

People are signing up for vaccinations and then not showing up. They are not bothering to sign up because they aren’t interested. Perhaps some live their lives in such a narrow fashion that they are simply oblivious to this safe, effective medical option.

As a story this week indicated, thousands of people in central Illinois have been vaccinated — 30 percent of Champaign County residents, nearly

29 percent in Piatt County and 20 percent in Vermilion.

Those numbers represent deep inroads, but they are not enough. Thirty percent vaccinated means 70 percent are not.

The question confronting public-

health officials now is how to increase the demand for what was in heavy demand just a month ago.

That’s an easy problem to identify, but a tough one to effectively address.

As filmmaker Sam Goldwyn once said of his films: If people won’t show up, you can’t stop them.

In a free country, compulsion is not an option. But persuasion — done effectively — can move mountains.

In addition to bringing vaccination programs to where the hard to reach are, as already was being done, it’s clearly necessary to educate the public about the importance to them, their friends and family of being vaccinated.

Believers in this common-sense approach need to spread the word in a kind and thoughtful way.

It’s unknown what will happen if great numbers of people remain unvaccinated. But who wants to find out?

Achieving so-called herd immunity is of vital importance, not just for everyone’s physical health but for their spiritual health as well. People long for a return to normalcy, but that goal will remain elusive if too many people continue to avoid doing this simple thing.

Everyone knows that vaccinations are part of life. Starting at childhood and on up, people get shots for one thing or another through their lives.

There’s nothing to be afraid of here, and those who claim there is are either uninformed or fear-mongers.

Locally, vaccination centers are so well run that people get in and out in little time, even when there’s a crowd. If a vaccination leads to a sore arm or a day slightly under the weather, it’s a small price to pay for the benefit of all.

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