I hope I'm not premature in saying this, but it's beginning to feel like we're finally on the downhill slope of the pandemic. I'm an old guy, so I'm eligible for the vaccine here in Arizona, and I'll be getting my second shot tomorrow (Pfizer). It won't be much longer after that, my wife and I will be able to hug and hang out with our grand kids, after a very hard year of keeping our distance. We'll still wear masks in public, we'll still avoid crowds, but we'll feel one heck of a whole lot safer! Just knowing that day is coming, it's like having a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders.

It's possible that we could see another setback here in the States. Between the new variants of the virus, the spring break crowds, and the premature lifting of common sense restrictions in many states (including my own), infections could easily surge again, as is happening in some parts of Europe. That's bad enough, but the thing that has me most concerned, personally, is "vaccine reluctance." All the people who are either afraid of the vaccine, or simply unwilling to take it, in many cases for political reasons?! I can understand that first group, people being nervous about possible side effects, but seriously, folks, catching the virus would be one heck of a lot worse than ANY vaccine side effect identified up to this point, and that's with millions upon millions of shots-in-arms. The vaccines are safe, and they are effective; the proof is in the dropping case load. That second reason--people refusing to take the vaccine as a matter of principle? That's got me completely baffled, because it makes no sense at all.

"Here's the deal!" (to borrow a phrase): The more people who get vaccinated, the fewer human hosts there will be to incubate and spread the disease, and the faster we reduce those numbers, the sooner we end this. Don't leave it up to everyone else. Do your part! Take the shot when it's your turn to do so, and hey, remember those road trips we've all been putting on hold? With any luck at all, I hope to see you all out there!

Happy trails--and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Rick Quinn (Irish, all the way to the bone!)