One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The lyrics were originally a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during a difficult time in his life. I encourage you to learn about the events that led him to write the poem, because it makes the words more meaningful.

I know this year has been difficult for those who have experienced the loss of loved ones. I know for the medical workers who have put their lives in harm’s way through the pandemic, it has been difficult for you and your families. I know for those who have lost jobs, your small businesses, and your health, it has been difficult. I know many can identify with the lines from the hymn, “There is no peace on earth… for hate [illness, financial stress, death] is strong and mocks the song of ‘peace on earth, good will to men.’”

But there is some good news. Nearly 40,000 doses of the COVID vaccine created by Pfizer-BioNTech are in the process of being distributed across the state, first to our healthcare workers, who have tirelessly battled the disease since March. Nursing home employees and residents will follow.

One of the groups that has been placed in the next round are our public school educators and staff. I have been advocating for moving this group closer to the top of our front line workers, especially since some schools in District 33 have had to switch to distance learning because too many of their teachers were ill or exposed. Making a priority of allowing our educators and staff to volunteer to receive the vaccine will be a great step in keeping our students in school on a regular basis.

Most Oklahomans will not be eligible to receive the vaccine until April. For the past two weeks, I have been quarantined fighting the COVID virus, and I plan to sign up for the vaccine as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, we all need to continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, and social distance.

At the federal level, Congress continues to debate the specifics of another stimulus bill. I know this would help many of you who are struggling financially, and I am hopeful by the time this column is printed, Congress will have reached an agreement.

May you and yours feel the hope of peace during this season. I look forward to 2021 and the many ways I can continue serving you.

As the old Christmas hymn concludes, “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.’”

Please continue to reach out to my office at 405-557-7304 or john.talley@okhouse.gov.

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.

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