It takes a lot of fortitude to run a business that serves the needs of the community in a time when so many close-minded people feel empowered to voice their opinion to the whole world while hiding behind the veil of social media.

That is why we applaud those at St. Luke’s Health-Memorial for their decision to require all employees to be fully vaccinated.

This decision, we know, was not made lightly and it was made out of an abundance of concern and care for the staff, patients and our community as a whole.

Officials at St. Luke’s said in a press release, “As health care providers, we have a responsibility to help end this pandemic and protect our patients, our colleagues and those in our communities. Requiring vaccination for our teams is critical to maintaining a safe care environment.”

Employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021, and this includes all physicians, Advanced Practice Providers, volunteers and others caring for patients within hospital or care facilities.

We agree and want to thank you for stepping up and doing what is right for our community despite knowing the decision would draw ire from many in the community who do not believe in the science or, for that matter, that COVID-19 is even real.

After seeing how many have died and been sick and just how easily it is transmitted from person to person, can those individuals not see it’s a real virus with real consequences?

There have been 478 new cases in Angelina County in the past seven days with 37 people in ICU and 26 in general population beds diagnosed with coronavirus. Across the country, the majority of those getting very sick from the delta variant and needing hospitalization are not fully vaccinated, according to reports from hospitals nationwide.

Of course, there are cases in which people who are vaccinated get sick. It can happen, but it’s not as likely to happen or be as severe if you are fully vaccinated.

We believe in the science of the vaccine and in wearing masks, and we believe both will slow the progress of the pandemic — especially if more of our community would get vaccinated and wear a mask.

And we believe in protecting those who are the most vulnerable — our elderly and our young. Getting vaccinated — which is simple and FREE — benefits everyone. Stop being selfish and think about those you love who are not healthy. They deserve to be protected.

And that is just what St. Luke’s is doing — protecting you — which is the job of a healthcare facility.

They do not ask you to be vaccinated in order to come to the hospital to be treated. They are not going to tell you, while you are lying on a bed bleeding and in pain after a car wreck or some other tragic accident or illness, to go away if you are not vaccinated.

They will treat you — vaccine or not.

So thank you, St. Luke’s Health-Memorial, for having the fortitude to take that step.