Ninety-eight percent of Portuguese citizens 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Portugal is largely free of COVID.

Ninety-eight percent of eligible Americans would be fully vaccinated, too, if you, the unvaccinated, would get your shots. Then, all of us could enjoy pre-pandemic lives free of masks and worry. So why aren’t you vaccinated?

Perhaps you fear the vaccine. That’s understandable. A powerful movement exists to undermine confidence in the vaccine. Misinformation is ubiquitous. Ignore it. Listen instead to health professionals. Be comforted by the positive experience of over 2.7 billion people on our planet who are fully vaccinated.

Perhaps you have a religious objection. You’re concerned that the cell line that made COVID vaccines possibly came from aborted fetal cells. It did, but the abortion happened over 40 years ago, and none of the original fetal tissue appears in the vaccines. Think about it this way: avoiding the vaccine doesn’t save the aborted fetus, but accepting the vaccine can save many people living now.

Perhaps you construe mask and vaccine mandates as government overreach. You balk on principle.

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If so, we can applaud your love of liberty, but spurning mask and vaccine mandates on principle seems unprincipled, because you’re getting people killed. School vaccination mandates have saved lives for more than a hundred years.

Some of you, I regret to say, spurn COVID vaccines as a way to express solidarity with the Republican Party which from the early days of the Trump presidency has discounted the risk of COVID-19. Some of you have even attacked teachers and health workers for wearing masks and encouraging vaccinations. You’ve found meaning and purpose, not in vaccines or constitutional governance, but in the fascism growing within your party.

The delta variant is extremely infectious. Everyone unvaccinated will catch it. One day you will catch it. Then, you may infect a relative or friend.

Your reasons for vaccine avoidance may be pure or ugly, but know this: if you don’t get vaccinated, thousands more will suffer permanent organ damage or die by spring because of you, and that’s the truth.

Richard Hanson, Grafton, N.D.