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We’re not done yet

Letter to the editor

Even though roughly half of the adults in Polk County have been vaccinated against Covid, we need to do better. 

I’ve personally administered several hundred Covid vaccines, from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They are all excellent vaccines and I have complete confidence in all of them. As with any medication, though, there are circumstances in which I would recommend one over the other.

On a daily basis I talk to people and ask them if they’ve had their vaccination. Many say ‘yes’, and when those that say ‘no’ do so I can usually tell by the way they say it those that don’t intend to get it. My next question is either ‘why not?’, or ‘would you like to get one now?’ The answer to ‘why not?’ are usually ‘it’s unproven’, ‘I know someone who got sick after taking it’ or ‘I’m not at risk’. I would like to clarify that all of those answers may be a misunderstanding of the issues since it’s sometimes difficult to find a straight answer.

These vaccines are ALL proven to work. In the United States alone there have been over 256 MILLION doses of vaccine administered as of May 12. They do work. In a typical year the influenza vaccine (which actually protects against 3 or 4 different strains of influenza, depending on the vaccine) is somewhere between 40-60% effective in reducing illness caused by influenza. By contrast, what we’ve seen so far is that the Covid vaccine is about 90% effective in preventing the recipient from contracting the Covid virus. As someone who has given somewhere around 10,000 doses of vaccines in my career, I think that’s an amazing accomplishment.

Yes, some people will feel bad for a few days after receiving the vaccine. Some people who have been vaccinated will still contract the disease. The upside, though, and what we should concentrate on, is that MOST people who get the vaccine report nothing worse than a sore arm, and of those that do contract Covid, in spite of being vaccinated, it is very rare for them to end up in the hospital or dying.

Read that sentence again.

Yes, there is a small chance you may still get sick, but you are far, far less likely to end up in the hospital or morgue, and the illness from the vaccine (that most people don’t even experience) is far less severe than the actual disease.

So, you’re not at risk? That’s excellent. But what about your parents, neighbors, friends or people you see around town. Here’s where we really need your help. According to the best estimate of the CDC, each infected person will infect 2.5 other people. The overall death rate is heavily slanted toward those over 65 years old but is currently 583,000 deaths out of 32.8 million reported cases, or about 1 in 50. So, if you’re young and get the disease, you’ll probably be miserable for a week or two, but you’ll most likely come out of it OK.

There are, however, many reported cases of otherwise healthy young people dying from Covid, and even young people are encountering the ‘long haul’ effects of Covid. In the meantime, you’ll infect 2.5 other people, who will infect 2.5 other people, and so on. By the time the disease carries 4 ‘degrees’ from you 39 people will be infected. By the fifth ‘degree’ that number will be 97 which statistically will equate to 2 dead people. You may not even know those people.

Please, get your vaccine. I’ve taken it, my family has taken it, my coworkers have taken it, most of the healthcare professionals that I know have taken it and 256 million other Americans have taken it. Would all of us have done that if we thought it was a bad idea?

Dr Steve Burney

Green Creek