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‘Choices’ are limited; get the vaccine

Recently, we have seen significant blowback from our governor’s mandated vaccination for health care workers and teachers. The mantra of most is “loss of personal freedom.”

In the age of the highly infectious and lethal delta variant, the “choices” are very limited. All of us, vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be exposed to the delta variant.

The vaccinated can still get COVID-19, but they will be less sick and much less able to pass the virus to others. The unvaccinated will become sicker and much more infectious.The unvaccinated are more often hospitalized, ventilated and die. If they are teachers or health care workers, they would be more likely to spread virus at their work places.

Masking alone will not suffice. Even with universal masking, all of us remove masks briefly to eat or to get a respite from discomfort.

Slightly more than half of eligible Jackson County residents are fully vaccinated. If vaccines did not work, then we would expect half of COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator use to be among the vaccinated. Instead, less than 10% have been among the vaccinated. Simply put, vaccines work.

We are taught as children to “look both ways” before crossing a street. Most of the time, when traffic is light, we could chose to run across the street without looking and not be hit by a car.

Not taking a vaccine in the days of the delta variant would be comparable to running across the street without looking. Most unvaccinated will not get seriously ill or die. But many will, and will overflow our hospitals, intensive care units and morgues until the virus finally runs its course.

As time goes on, the vaccinated will become less tolerant of those who are unvaccinated. Prolonging the pandemic will mean even more months of indoor masking, restrictive travel, long lines checking vaccination cards at outdoor venues, and delayed hospital elective procedures. Prolonging the pandemic will further stress an already stressed medical care system, with a slow degradation of quality of care.

Health care workers and school employees who do not vaccinate not only put patients and children at risk, they will find that their support within the outside community will shrink as more people become vaccinated. Hopefully, they will see that becoming vaccinated is not a sign of weakness but of courage.

The Pfizer vaccine is fully approved and vetted by the FDA. It is no longer “experimental.” If you have not been vaccinated, please get the shot. We need to put the pandemic behind us!

Dave Gilmour, M.D., of Central Point is a retired physician and a former Jackson County commissioner.