Rob Kenagy, MD, the president and CEO of Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka, recently published an appeal to the unvaccinated public to protect themselves against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.
“We are at a crossroads in the COVID-19 pandemic that will define our lives and our community’s future,” Kenagy stated. “We have seen more patients die in the past year than during any time in our memory. Some die from COVID-19. Others from medical conditions that gained footing when the pandemic stalled their ability to access care.”
He asked people to give weight to the science and the experience of hundreds of millions of people across America. Both show the vaccines are safe and effective.
“Lately, we have seen younger and generally sicker COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Most of those who need intensive care beds are unvaccinated. This is troubling to our team members. Some of these critical patients now plead for others to get the vaccine, but for them it is too late.”
At Monday’s Barton County Commission meeting, County Health Director Karen Winkelman said, “what we have seen here in Barton County is that in those who have been vaccinated, who have contracted COVID, the symptoms are very mild.” No vaccine can be effective 100% of the time, but the vaccine has been very effective and with 11,500 doses administered in the last eight months, the only reported side effects in Barton County have been sore arms or elevated temperatures experienced after getting the shot.
People complain about the abundance of misinformation out there. Maybe that’s true, but it appears some people are searching for misinformation.
People complain that guidelines don’t appear to be consistent. Actually, the guidelines have changed over the past year as we’ve learned more about how COVID-19 is spread.
We suggest you read “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: 12 Things You Need to Know,” (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-vaccine-hesitancy-12-things-you-need-to-know) published by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The 12 things begin with “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick” and end with “Vaccines can’t save lives unless people get vaccinated.”
The next safety precaution to discuss is mask wearing. With school starting again in two weeks, we hope the school board will address this when it meets Monday. At the end of the school year, we were all happy to take off our masks in most situations. But by July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said even people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 should resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces. Yes, this was a change from its recommendation two months earlier. New scientific evidence showed even vaccinated people can become infected and may carry the virus to others. The increase of new cases with the spread of the Delta variant persuaded health officials to update their recommendation.
Here are two more of the 12 things to know: “Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 helps others in your community” and “More vaccinations for COVID-19 mean a chance to return to normal.” We should mention that masks also help stop the spread of COVID-19 by adding a layer – literally – between the wearer and any virus in the air.