Recently, I heard the comment that dying from COVID is now a choice.

This statement stuck in my head as a powerful argument for the choice of vaccination. And, considering the Virgin Islands is lagging in its efforts to get its population vaccinated, it’s extremely important that we as a community bring this discussion out in the open.

Since the pandemic began, we saw the world change dramatically. We all strove to survive in the moment. We socially distanced, wore masks, carried antibacterial stuff and hunkered down. We saw loved ones die. We prayed for a cure.

And, with the world pulling together the best scientific minds, doctors, epidemiologists and specialists in contagious diseases, the vaccine was developed. The vaccine that allows 95% protection from deadly COVID was made available to our community. And while the rest of the world struggled to supply its populations, the Virgin Islands was able to vaccinate easily.

Then the rumors and fears started.

Six months after the first vaccines were administered, we are still trapped in fear and misconceptions as to the protection the COVID vaccine offers. Lotteries, public announcements and other incentives are ongoing. It takes courage to move forward, dispelling non-scientific beliefs and misguided talk. The vaccine not only will protect the individual but the greater community.

We, in our small tight-knit community, can’t afford an outbreak among non-vaccinated people. To those still undecided, speak to your doctors and medical professionals. Get the facts. Get vaccinated so you survive in the moment.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at