Opinion: Get the shot

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Linn County is paddling its figurative surfboard out to sea, hoping to remain afloat and avoid the third wave of deaths and hospitalizations from yet another round of COVID-19 infections. This time, it is the Delta variant, the one that has already torn through the Branson and Springfield area.

Health officials have characterized this new wave of COVID as a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That isn't entirely true. While the vaccinations have been very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths among the 162 million Americans who are fully vaccinated, the vaccination does not necessarily bestow immunity.

In fact many reports indicate that while 95 percent or more hospital patients have been unvaccinated, as many as 5 percent have received a vaccination. We already knew that the vaccination didn't confer immunity to everyone, it just kept them from being seriously ill if they contracted COVID.

As society began to open up again in May and June, most school districts felt like masks for students were a thing of the past. However, in a few short weeks, school will be starting, and school districts will face tough decisions if the current wave of COVID arrives as predicted. It is certain that parents will not be uniformly happy with whatever decisions are made.

So, how should people respond?

First, if you haven't had COVID and are unvaccinated, make arrangements to get the shot.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer two-dose vaccines seem to offer more protection, and both require waiting periods between injections as well as a period after the final injection to have full protection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single injection vaccine, and there has been some indication that a booster might be needed to give full protection.

Still having some so-called "vaccination hesitancy?" In an interview for CBS Evening News on July 21, a reporter interviewed a man hospitalized with COVID. When asked if he would take the vaccine when he recovered, he said that he would not because the vaccines only had emergency approval and were not fully approved.

Flash to a doctor talking about that response. The doctor pointed out that the medicines used to treat and cure COVID patients had not been fully approved either. Point well taken.

If you received the first vaccination in a two-part series but failed to get the second, you can still get the second shot. Studies have shown that a single dose of a two-part regimen is not as effective as receiving the full dose.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for everyone 12 years and older, so take the older kids when you go to get your shot. A note here about the cost: In most cases the vaccine is free. So the price is right.

The Linn County Health Department is a good source of information on which one to take, and it conducts walk-in clinics every Wednesday as well as injection by appointment other days of the week. The number is 913-352-6640.

If you've already had COVID, check with your doctor about the level of antibodies you have built up to guard against a second infection. Many doctors are suggesting a vaccine booster to further bolster your body's defenses.

Finally, even if you're fully vaccinated, you still need to be cautious. Your vaccine is very good protection against a severe case, but you are not necessarily fully immune. Avoid crowds, especially indoors, and put on the mask if you can't avoid that indoor event.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is still with us no matter how weary we are of the precautions we have had to make the past year and a half. So we need to do everything we can to stop it and get our lives back on track.

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