After more than 15 months of a COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 195,000 people and killed nearly 2.200 statewide, Idaho is flirting with another outbreak.

As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 39.8 percent of Idahoans had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only Louisiana (38.9 percent)and Mississippi (37 percent) were lower.

There are 1,000 counties in the United States with vaccinations rates below 30 percent.

The Gem State is on that list, too.

Elsewhere, 62 percent of Washington’s population got at least one dose. Massachusetts is at 70 percent. In Vermont, it’s more than 74 percent.

The national average is 55 percent.

“Looking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable,” warns Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

Idaho must do better.

Get the shot.

The newest strain of the coronavirus, the delta variant, is spreading quickly. Nationally, it is the dominant coronavirus.

It could be as much as twice as infectious as its predecessors. In other words, your chances of catching the delta variant from an infected individual are twice as great.

It may also be more virulent.

“We should think about the delta variant as the 2020 version of COVID-19 on steroids,” said Andy Slavitt, a former senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response team.

So far, the vaccines have proven effective against this new variant. But the risks are rising for the unvaccinated.

In fact, infection rates are surging in 11 states, including Missouri and South Carolina. In Missouri, hospitals are running short of ventilators.

For the sake of Idaho’s health care network, get the shot.

Last month, nearly 10,000 Americans died from COVID-19

All but 80 of them were unvaccinated.

In other words, all of them died needlessly.

“No vaccine is perfect,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week on “Meet the Press.” “But when you talk about the avoidability of hospitalization and death, Chuck (Todd), it’s really sad and tragic that most of these are avoidable and preventable.”

So here’s what we know: More than 182 million Americans have received at least one dose with minimal side effects. Those who have chosen not to be vaccinated are risking their lives.

Look out for your own best interests.

Get the shot.

The worst isn’t here yet.

Come the fall when schools reopen and more people congregate inside, an unvaccinated Idaho will confront not only a more contagious strain of COVID-19, but a flu season as well.

What then?

Do communities reinstate the face mask mandates that so provoked the COVID-19 deniers in the first place?

What does the owner of a restaurant or a store do?

Insist that customers don a mask?

Require proof of vaccination?

And what about the vaccinated individual who sees his own health insurance premiums rise to cover the costs of treating those who got sick because they refused to get vaccinated?

“There is the vaccinated America and the unvaccinated America,” said Dr. Paul Offit, who served on advisory panels for both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration. “And I think the unvaccinated America is about to pay a price for that.”

Get the shot.

The vaccine is all around you — clinics, pharmacies. Mobile units are available in many communities.

It’s free.

This isn’t like being asked to wear a face mask to secure those around you.

The vaccine safeguards the person who gets it — and minimizes the prospect that he will spread the virus to someone else.

The paradigm has shifted: Now it’s a matter of protecting yourself.

Unless, of course, the virus circulates among enough unvaccinated people to produce a new strain of COVID-19 that is resistant to the vaccines.

Then, we’re back to where we were last winter.

What possible reason could you have?

Some irresponsible rant on social media or elsewhere has confused you?

Think you’re bullet-proof?

Afraid someone will accuse you of being a liberal if you get vaccinated?

The way this is going, there are going to be a few more healthy liberals than conservatives walking around this fall.

Want to really “own the libs”?

Get the shot. — M.T.