When you’re deciding whether or not to run out and get a covid shot, don’t forget what we’re all running from.
Covid was and still is a serious and potentially deadly virus.
As states ease restrictions on businesses and activities, optimism about the end of the year-long nightmare grows.
We can now go to sporting events and other indoor performances in limited numbers. We can visit other states without having to quarantine. We can spend more time in greater numbers in a growing number of places, like bowling alleys and casinos.
Last week, the governor lifted some of the most stringent restrictions that prevented us from visiting our sick and dying loved ones in nursing homes.
Good news arrives every day about the growing availability of vaccines, and each day it seems it becomes much easier to schedule a shot close to home.
But the covid crisis is far from over. And despite how it seems that everyone we know is proudly posting photos of their vaccination cards on Facebook, we are far from being past this once-in-a-century outbreak.
Overall across the country, covid cases have decreased for the past 10 weeks.
But the country has seen consistent increases in the seven-day average of new cases over the past few days. On Thursday, there was a 6.7% increase in the seven-day average number of daily cases reported compared with the prior week.
On Thursday, the country reported more than 68,500 new cases and nearly 1,400 new deaths.
As of Friday, there were more than 4,600 New Yorkers hospitalized with covid, a slight increase from the day before, and 46 people had died. Those numbers are far below what we experienced at the peak of the crisis. But the numbers statewide aren’t dropping precipitously, and in fact some area hospitals are seeing an up-tick in the number people in their intensive care units after seeing the numbers drop over the last few months.
If the picture was so rosy, we’d see the numbers plummeting, right?
Despite the good news, people are still getting sick from this virus, and they’re still dying from it.
People are still suffering, relying on respirators and intense medical care to get them through. People are still worrying about their loved ones. Funerals from covid deaths are still being held.
And our medical professionals, the true heroes of the crisis, are still overworked, overwhelmed and at risk.
Vaccinations are our best ticket out of this crisis, and the more people who are vaccinated, the faster and more effective the recovery will be.
If you’re one of those individuals resisting getting the shot, think again.
Maybe you figure you’re one of those people who’s protected by their own immune system.
But studies show that while some people are more susceptible to the severity of the illness, no one is totally immune.
Or maybe you think if you hang around with only vaccinated people, you can’t catch it or spread it.
That’s a question that has yet to be answered, and studies are being conducted to find out if vaccinated people can still spread it.
The answer could determine how well the vaccine can protect society.
SAFE AND EFFECTIVE
Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks the vaccines aren’t safe.
While we’re not medical experts, and while there is a chance some people could experience adverse reactions, the overall picture for vaccines is that they are very safe and very effective.
Both clinical trials and experience with the vaccines in the general population support that position.
The CDC recommends everyone who can get a vaccine should get one as soon as possible, as the minuscule risk of becoming ill from the vaccine is far outweighed by the risk of getting the virus.
Or maybe you’re one of those people who figures that since so many others seem to have been vaccinated, the risk of you being exposed to someone with covid right now is quite small.
That’s also untrue.
As of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control, about 89.6 million U.S. citizens had received at least one dose of the covid vaccine and about 48.7 million were considered fully vaccinated.
That sounds like a lot, until you consider that the U.S. population is more than 328 million.
Currently, only about 27% of Americans are partially vaccinated, and only 14.7% are fully vaccinated.
Here in New York as of Friday morning, only 28.2% of New Yorkers had completed at least one vaccine dose, and only 15.2% had completed their vaccine series – both figures just slightly above the national average.
To achieve what scientists call “herd immunity,” when the risk of spreading the disease goes down significantly, the percentage of people fully vaccinated must be about 75%-80%.
We’re only a fraction of the way there.
One of the big concerns is that a significant number of people will refuse to get vaccinated.
Polls show pervasive hesitancy persists, both in the U.S. and around the world, largely over misinformation about the speed at which the vaccines were developed (The current covid vaccines were actually developed over a long period of time with diverse and expansive testing.), historical mistrust of vaccines particularly among minorities, and political beliefs.
Many young people are refusing to get the vaccine, figuring that even if they get a case of the virus, it won’t be that harmful to them. and they’ll recover quickly.
That maybe true in most cases. But if you’re not vaccinated, you could get the virus and not know it, and spread it to others, such as vulnerable people who haven’t been vaccinated.
It’s common to see people who don’t believe in vaccinations also not believe in the covid protocols that have helped keep us safe – social distancing and mask wearing.
That makes their lack of vaccination even more dangerous to others.
And by the way, there have been cases in which those in populations not considered vulnerable have contracted serious cases of the virus.
So there’s no guarantee young people are completely safe.
PROOF OF VACCINATION
If none of the reasons given for getting vaccinated so far sway you, then you should consider that if you don’t get vaccinated, you could face new restrictions on your lifestyle that vaccinated people won’t.
While it’s still a relatively new concept, proof of vaccination may be permanently required for people to travel on airplanes, trains or cruise ships; cross the border into another country; attend concerts, sporting events; enter restaurants or enjoy other entertainment venues; or even go to work.
Just like school children can’t attend public school without proof of immunization from childhood diseases, the same restrictions may apply to adults who aren’t vaccinated against covid.
New York state has already developed an app for your phone that will allow you to show proof of vaccination or recent testing.
Showing this app or other proof of vaccination in order to get onto a plane or into a concert or bar might become as common as showing identification.
And for those young people, many colleges are, or soon will be, requiring full vaccination in order to attend classes in person.
The bottom line is that we’re still in a crisis that could continue or get worse if it’s not squashed.
Mass vaccinations are the best answer we have to recovering from this pandemic.
Don’t let fear, misinformation or indifference keep you from scheduling your shot.