By Trina Bianchi, Contributor

As we journey through the COVID vaccination process toward the goal of herd immunity, we know that goal and the percentage of individuals vaccinated are inextricably linked. And we also are aware that there are those who have not been vaccinated, either because of obstacles they are finding difficult to overcome or because of a true hesitancy or possibly distrust of the vaccine itself.

So, let’s talk about resiliency. If we, as a town, would like to achieve herd immunity, each of us needs to do our part. If we know folks who would like to get vaccinated, but for whatever reason have been unable to schedule or get to an appointment, VaxHelp05445 has been established to aid and support those folks. Contact them via email or by phone at (802) 425- 3864 (the Charlotte Library).

But that’s not everyone. There are those folks who, for various reasons, are hesitant or perhaps do not want to get the vaccine. It’s easy for us of a certain age to say that we have lived through numerous vaccine protocols—from smallpox, to polio, measles, German measles and various flu vaccines—to say that COVID is just another vaccine, effective and safe. Go and get it. But we have to remember that in yesterday’s world we trusted what was printed in the papers, we trusted the doctors, and we didn’t have the bombardment of social media and various news stations airing sometimes widely different versions of the news. Who or what do we trust in today’s world?

Each of us has to decide on our own how we best protect ourselves, our families and our friends from this virus. The virus is real—and can be a real threat to individuals. Granted, some people have gotten it, it hasn’t been bad and they are now fine. Others haven’t been so fortunate and have either succumbed to the virus or are dealing with lingering symptoms that are now affecting their daily lives. It therefore behooves all of us to recognize that and do what we can to help our community become more resilient against COVID, because COVID isn’t going away, at least not anytime soon!

It’s here and we need to accept that. We can encourage folks to get the vaccine and talk about why we are comfortable with the vaccine, but at the same time know and respect the fact that some folks are simply not going to get it—at least not now. We can suggest they continue to wear a mask when they are with other people, especially inside, to protect themselves as well as others, especially after the mask mandate opens up as of May 1, outside. I know I’m not tossing my masks away any time soon as even though I’m vaccinated and legal to travel. I will continue to wear a mask inside in public even if the mask mandate is eased or lifted. If not to protect myself, I will wear it to protect someone else who may not have been vaccinated. We can also maintain the social distancing protocol. I liken it to stopping at a four-way stop sign even though there are no other vehicles approaching the intersection.

Resiliency happens when people work as a community—talking, listening, encouraging, supporting and respecting one another and doing whatever each can to make our community safer.

The results of the COVID section of the Resiliency Survey might indicate that the communication in our town around what is available for support could be better—24% of the respondents were not sure about the level of mutual aid and community support that was available during this past year, and 30% were not sure around the question concerning the schools. Understanding that the results are strictly based on the perception of the respondents as opposed to “actual fact of what is available,” to note that 24% and 30% of the people were unaware doesn’t mean that the support was not there. It simply means people didn’t know about it. And that speaks to communication. If better communication means more people are comfortable and feeling that our town has the support they need, that’s a pretty easy fix.

Discussion on the next part of the survey, Basic Needs and Services, will be held via zoom on Tuesday, May 18, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The clickable link can be found on the Charlotte Library website or here.

This is a great opportunity for everyone in Charlotte to be heard—around food supply, food equity, clean water, energy independence, health service, inclusivity in our town, and housing. The actual survey questions and results can be seen in their entirety above. Members of the CCP team hope you will mark this down on your calendar and join the discussion!

Dates for future discussions on the survey are: June 1 for the section on the Environment; June 15 to discuss Physical Infrastructure, and June 22 on Community Connections.

It is the hope of the Charlotte Community Partners that our neighbors and friends will join into these discussions to listen and present ideas on how we can make our town even more resilient, more welcoming, and more supportive to all.