The last 14 months have been profoundly difficult for all as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have well over a half million Americans died, but also the health-care system has been profoundly stretched. Tens of millions have lost their jobs and have been unable to pay their rent or mortgage and have increasing dependency on charitable food donations. Schools have closed with the transition to remote learning showing variable degrees of success. As a result of the shutdown of our communities and forced isolation at home, many have experienced psychological trauma.

Thanks to the efforts of scientists from around the world, vaccines were delivered faster than anticipated. Happily, the federal government made the appropriate decision to provide free vaccinations for all.

Clearly the success of the vaccines has resulted in a profound reduction of recent COVID cases. People can now travel; schools and restaurants are opening, and life is slowly returning to normal. However, the health experts are still concerned about future surges.

In order to bring an end to COVID, the CDC and the president’s COVID team hope to achieve 75 percent vaccination by July 4. This will result in herd immunity, meaning that a significant percentage of the population has become immune to the infection either through vaccination or by a previous infection, thereby reducing the likelihood of infections spreading to individuals who lack immunity. Current research shows individuals who have recovered from COVID should still be vaccinated; prior infection provides some immunity, but vaccination provides better and longer-lasting immunity.

In addition, we have recently learned that children as young as 12 will soon be able to be vaccinated. This will certainly help as the country strives to reach herd immunity.

New Hampshire is truly a great place to live and work. For us, our families, our neighbors, and for our desire to be free and independent from COVID-19, let’s continue this great trend and show the rest of the country why an independent-minded, freedom loving state like New Hampshire together can beat COVID-19 and return to normal. To achieve these goals, we must all be vaccinated. It is important that we encourage our friends and neighbors — and now the pre-teenagers as well — to do the same.

ROBERT J. ENGLUND, M.D.

Munsonville