Letters to the EditorNews

Why You Should Get Vaccinated for COVID-19

You’ve heard the story before: The Haves get to go places and do things that the Have Nots can’t. The Haves can win cash and prizes. The Haves avoid sickness and survive the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m talking about those who Have vaccinated and those who Have Not. Actually, it’s more like the Haves and the Could Haves, because everyone could have a vaccination. COVID vaccinations are free and available at your local pharmacy to anyone 12 years and older, even if you have no insurance. The suffering and deaths of the Could Haves (and the heartache of their family and friends) is entirely avoidable and within our control to eliminate.

But the vaccination rate in Athens-Clarke County remains low. Although 75% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, only 47% of adults in Georgia and 43% of all county residents are. This is far from the 70% vaccination rate needed for herd immunity against COVID-19—what we must achieve to end this pandemic.

“But I’m waiting for more data on the vaccines.” After 1.7 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, we have learned that the vaccines are remarkably protective against infection, including the highly contagious Delta variant that is now the dominant variant in the U.S. Variants will continue to emerge as long as the coronavirus remains in circulation. Immunity appears to be lasting with the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Most importantly, the vaccines are safe: There have been about 1.3 anaphylaxis events per million doses, and 3.5 to 10 blood clot events per million doses. For perspective, there were 115 motor vehicle deaths and 121 firearm deaths per million people in the U.S. in 2019. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash or by a gunshot wound than to have a serious side effect from the COVID vaccines.

“But I survived COVID-19, so I have immunity.” If you survived one coronavirus variant, you’re likely to survive that variant again. But there is no telling how natural immunity to one variant will stand up against other variants, or how long natural immunity will last. Growing evidence suggests the benefit of vaccinations for people who have survived COVID-19, essentially by boosting natural immunity.

Vaccinations are our best shot at ending this pandemic. Many in our community can’t be vaccinated, like our children under 12. And many others may not benefit from vaccination, like people who are immunocompromised, undergoing cancer treatment or living with a donated organ. These vulnerable people in our families, schools, workplaces and communities have no choice but to hope for herd immunity to be safe. For the sake of those we love, let’s get vaccinated. Let’s change the script from “I could have…” to “I have gotten vaccinated to end the pandemic!”