Monday began a new era of pandemic protection in New Hampshire — potentially. With the latest phase of the state’s COVID vaccine protocols kicking in, any adult age 30 or older can now sign up to get vaccinated. By Friday, it will be anyone age 16 or older.

The early word has been that the rollout went more smoothly Monday morning than some previous phase openings, but we’d hope that would be the case as the state learns what went wrong before and corrects for it. So waits on the phone may be shorter now — and lines at Krif Road in Keene and other sites longer — than when older groups got the go-ahead.

Even better is that more people are getting the vaccines, and becoming less likely to suffer a serious, even fatal, bout with COVID-19. The ONLY way through the pandemic is by reaching a point where there aren’t enough potential hosts to spread the virus. Other than most of us dying, the only way to achieve that is through inoculation.

Though vaccine critics have raised some legitimate points regarding the experimental nature of these medications (yes, they were fast-tracked through the usual vaccine process, meaning they come with more unknowns than usual), they’ve often used irrelevant side issues (that drug companies have immunity from lawsuits over the vaccines, for example — just as they do regarding almost every widely used vaccine), or mischaracterized/misread facts and study results to muddy the debate (such as calling them “gene therapy” and saying they could change the recipient’s DNA).

Anyone can choose not to be vaccinated, and everyone is encouraged to seek more information on the vaccines from reputable sources. But the best way to protect yourselves, and others, epidemiological experts agree, is to get vaccinated. This is not a minor scare; it’s a global pandemic that has killed millions and wrecked economies.

So yes, making the vaccines accessible to more Granite Staters is a good thing.

And while there have been few reports of any of the several variants of the virus showing up in the state, the expanded vaccine access comes none too soon. The number of cases has been rising again after a lull. And it doesn’t take an epidemiologist to figure out why: Better weather, combined with ill-advised reopening of businesses and social venues in many states has encouraged too many people to get together too soon.

The news that coronavirus vaccines are becoming more readily available, and that people are taking advantage of them — 30,000 doses at the Krif Road site alone so far — is a plus. But it doesn’t mean, by any metric, that the danger has passed. Right now, young adults and children are the fastest-growing sectors of the population coming down with the virus. And until enough people of all ages are vaccinated, there can be no letting our guard down.

The absurdly ill-conceived notion that spring break in Florida and elsewhere could be anything but a disaster aside, we understand everyone is tired of isolating. We all want to see, and hug, our families and friends. We all want to go somewhere we can enjoy an event in unison, be it a concert or movie or even just a nice indoor dinner. But we urge readers to hold out and continue to act as if there’s a pandemic going on; because there still is.