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Opinion | Dolly Parton tried to get Tennessee vaccinated. But it is not enough.


July 16, 2021, 7:40 p.m. ET

NASHVILLE – When Dolly Parton received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at Vanderbilt University, where her million dollar donation helped fund research, she sang an updated version of her iconic song, “Jolene.” The tongue-in-cheek texts should inspire people to get vaccinated:

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
I beg you, please do not hesitate
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Because once you’re dead, it’s a little too late

She tried well, a heroic attempt, but somehow the stupid politicians who ruled this state managed to overcome even the goodwill that his favorite daughter produced.

Do you remember how hopeful we were this year when the new Covid-19 vaccines arrived so amazingly quickly and were so amazingly effective and safe? As a nation – political, institutional, too often personal – we had botched almost everything about this pandemic, and we didn’t deserve a miracle. The miracle arrived anyway.

We were dizzy at the prospect of these vaccines. We couldn’t stop talking about how happy we would be to sit in a movie theater again, listen to live music again, go to church and sing loudly again, sit around a table and talk again until late at night, no matter how long we breathed the same air. We reached for new babies and bent down to smell their downy heads. We would weep for joy to be skin to skin with new life. New life after such a long, dark year!

The anticipation of happiness seemed really ecumenical. Liberals, conservatives, politically indifferent people – everyone I knew waited for their vaccine priority number to appear. We signed up for remaining doses that might be available at the end of the day. We left town to get vaccinated in rural counties, where health officials went faster through the vaccine priority ranking. The lack of vaccine lines should have told us that something was happening in those counties other than the fact that fewer people lived there.

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