It’s certainly welcome news that Gov. Tom Wolf plans to lift COVID crowd restrictions on May 31, but the low note sounding in the background is falling vaccination numbers that signal no decisive end to the virus anytime soon. 

Wolf said ending the restrictions is contingent on the state meeting the benchmark of vaccinating 70% of Pennsylvanians 18 and older. As of Tuesday, 53% of Pennsylvanians 16 and older had received at least one shot. Lackawanna County was at 62.9%; Luzerne, 52%; Monroe, 43.6%; Pike, 40.9%; Susquehanna, 36.1%; Wayne, 48.3%; and Wyoming, 49.6%.

The 70% goal seems within reach, but vaccine hesitancy — whether fueled by fear, procrastination or some other indefensible excuse — makes reaching herd immunity all but impossible, according to scientists and other smart people who prize facts over feelings. 

A story in Monday’s New York Times reported that vaccine hesitancy and constantly emerging variants likely mean COVID is here to stay. We have a shot at eradicating the virus, but Americans who refuse to get vaccinated apparently want to keep it around — or don’t believe it’s here at all. 

Please don’t be one of these people. Don’t remain vulnerable to the virus or risk the health and lives of others for no good reason. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s free. Side effects can be a pain, but only last 24-48 hours. The most notable side effect is not dying if you catch COVID. 

A mass vaccination clinic is planned for May 12 at Scranton High School. Details haven’t been released but I’m told the date is firm. Mark it on your calendar and lobby hesitant friends and family to get vaccinated. It’s only way to truly put COVID behind us, and just plain the right thing to do.  

Take your shot.