Kay Ivey, a Republican, is governor of Alabama.

Washington, D.C., is so hyper-politically polarized these days, it’s no wonder Americans have tuned out the earnest pleas of the nation’s top doctors, their elected leaders, superstar athletes and other celebrities who have been urging, for months, those who are unvaccinated to take the shot.

Here is the truth: Closing businesses will not defeat covid-19. Wearing masks will not defeat covid-19. And keeping our students from in-classroom learning will not defeat covid-19.

The good news is we have something that has proved helpful — safe and effective vaccines, which were developed in record time, and we can thank former president Donald Trump and all of those involved in Operation Warp Speed for making this medical miracle happen.

This time last year, people were praying that a vaccine would come to market in time to help slow the surge of deaths and people getting sick. With a lot of hard work, our prayers were answered. In fact, President Trump, who got the shot in January, later called it a “true miracle.”

In Alabama, my advice has been simple and consistent. If you can take the shot, roll up your sleeve and get one.

There are those who believe that government should mandate the vaccine or that we should bribe people to take it. That’s not going to happen in my state, no matter how many times the media ask me.

But there are also those who remain hesitant and skeptical of the vaccine, because there is so much misinformation out there. I believe those who are pushing fake news and conspiracy theories about this vaccine are reckless and causing great harm to people. The unvaccinated folks are being lied to, and that is just plum sad. It is no secret that I expressed some frustration when talking to reporters last week, but the data does not lie, and I simply do not want to see Alabamians, or anyone else for that matter, suffer. This vaccine works, and we need to start acting like it. This is not political: It’s just common sense.

Are there risks involved in taking it? Sure. But there is a risk every time we get in a car that we might be killed in a wreck. The benefits of getting where we need to go far outweigh those risks.

Let me be crystal clear: The covid-19 vaccine is our best weapon against this disease, and I encourage everyone to take it.

Even more importantly, talk with a doctor or pharmacist you know and trust. That’s what I did, and I received the vaccine as soon as I was eligible. It is free, readily available, and the jab doesn’t hurt a bit.

The hard, cold facts show the vaccine is saving lives. This virus is deadly serious, and in the United States, the pandemic is unfortunately becoming one of the unvaccinated. The data show that in Alabama and most other states almost 100 percent of our hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

A famous, albeit fictional son of Alabama, Forrest Gump, said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” That was true in 1994 when Forrest said it, and it’s true today. We have a weapon today to battle covid-19 that we didn’t have a year ago. It’s up to you to use the good common-sense God gave you to do what is best for you and your loved ones.