COVID-19 is surging. Please get a vaccine if you haven't already.
By Mary Wade Burnside
Soon the weather will turn cooler and it will be time to get flu shots.
But just like last year, as we prepare for fall, the world is dealing with surging with COVID cases, this time fueled by the more infectious and contagious Delta variant.
If you’re 12 or older and eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, that’s something you could do right now to protect the health of you, your family and your community.
If you are eligible to get a COVID vaccine and haven’t yet, why? They are free and you can get them by making an appointment at Monongalia County Health Department’s Clinical Services at 304-598-5119 or at one of our community events.
We’re happy to report that there has been a huge increase in COVID testing during the last few weeks as cases surge because of the more infectious Delta variant. And there has been an uptick in individuals getting COVID vaccines too.
That’s given us the opportunity to find out why some had put it off for so long. Many of them said they had just been lazy and hadn’t gotten around to it until then.
Or that they were concerned because the vaccines were created and granted emergency use authorization so quickly, although the messenger RNA technology used to make the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been around for a while and the vaccines’ efficacy have exceeded expectations at around 95% after both doses have been administered.
But it’s not surprising to hear that others had been misinformed about the vaccine and had been pressured by friends or relatives not to get the vaccine.
The numbers, however, speak for themselves. Hospitals in under-vaccinated areas are becoming overwhelmed with patients, similar to what we saw earlier in the pandemic. Except this time, the patients are often younger and had been healthier compared to those being admitted before.
Clearly, the vaccination has done its job in helping to prevent the spread among its recipients and also mitigating symptoms and hospitalizations of those who do get breakthrough illnesses.
It’s hard to address all the reasons why individuals have waited or refused to get the vaccine. But the science is clear: Vaccination is the way out of the pandemic.
We’ve heard of the ill-advised chickenpox parties of yore, in which parents would take their sick kids to hang out with other children so they could catch the virus and get over it, even after it became a vaccine-preventable disease.
We know that’s not a great idea. Plus, have you ever heard of a polio party? No. For the most part, people seemed to know not to mess around with polio, which could commit someone to a life in an iron lung or a wheelchair if it was survived. Now the United States has been polio-free since 1979.
And we know that COVID isn’t to be taken lightly either. Story after story hits the media about patients who opposed getting the vaccine only to change their tune after they were gasping for breath in a hospital bed, maybe hooked up to a respirator.
As fall approaches, expect to see some changes. It might get worse before it gets better, especially as students return to school.
But it’s anticipated that soon, the Food & Drug Administration will give COVID-19 vaccines full approval, instead of just the current emergency use authorization.
And that the age of vaccination will be lowered again so that another group of kids under the age of 12 can be inoculated.
Hopefully, those developments, in addition to the third dose just approved for immunocompromised individuals, as well as boosters due to begin in late September for anyone eight months post-vaccine, will be game changers that will expand the country’s vaccination rates and quell the COVID surges that are taking place.
If you haven’t yet, please do your part by calling MCHD Clinical Services at 304-598-5119 to make an appointment to get the inoculation that will put us one step closer to getting vaxxed to normal.