The "loud and proud" COVID-19 vaccine deniers in Bucks and Montgomery counties have me feeling… well, let’s just say I’m peeved. The ready-available free vaccine is the proven best answer to the surging coronavirus now led by the highly-contagious delta variant, yet many reject it citing fallacious reasons.

I’m irritated; please, understand my exasperation.

As boisterous and sometimes rowdy debate continues over mask wearing and other mandates -- like at recent North Penn and Central Bucks School District meetings -- positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise locally. And this is a virulent virus. In Bucks, 562 infections were recorded during the first week of August, a 62 percent jump over the previous week and 150 percent hike over two weeks prior. In addition, a COVID-related death was reported. Meanwhile in Montgomery County, where indoor mask wearing for the general public has been recommended, the positivity rate has ballooned from 0.5 percent to 4.2 percent.

This is developing at a time when a significant and growing number of Bucks and Montgomery residents -- as well as many nationwide -- still have not been vaccinated. They are at risk of getting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill or dying, and of helping spread the virulent illness. Add in the younger sect increasingly threatened by delta and it’s a growing problem. Some might have legitimate, documented reasons to not receive the drug, but many simply are "loud and proud" in dismissing the crisis as a political game. It’s not real, they say, and you can’t make me take this vaccine.

Are you kidding me? This is serious stuff, a game without rules taking victims regardless of race, color, religion, politics or anything else. If it’s a game, why then would the Department of Defense require U.S. military members to be fully vaccinated by mid-September? Why then would Bucks officials require masks be worn in county buildings and in the court system? Look at it this way: in the ‘60s, did people say no to the polio vaccine thinking it a game?

In an effort to reach the unvaccinated, especially the 16- to 30-year-old bracket, a new campaign has begun “taking a shot at motivating young people to stop procrastinating” and get a shot.

The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Bureau, teaming with county officials, are funding a program that will target the younger sect through social media and outdoor ads.

“It does away with any traditional fear-based messaging,” according to the county, and will run a campaign titled, “Don’t Procrastinate, Vaccinate.”

The ads will poke fun at popular excuses the younger population may use to avoid vaccination, such as being too busy arguing with strangers online about pineapple on pizza, or scrolling for hours on TikTok.

A video titled, “Don’t miss your shot at love,” features Cupid preparing for a big night out on his rounds at area locations. Said the county: “During these appearances, Cupid will encourage daters to spread the word about getting vaccinated.”

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