Comment: COVID vaccine is safe and our best way out of the pandemic | Remark

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Like many of you, I grew tired of the COVID-19 pandemic and hoped we were on the normal course when the number of COVID cases started to drop.

Since July, however, infections have started to rise again due to the delta variant of the virus. This is not unexpected, because this is how viruses behave – they mutate as they spread.

But unlike the start of the pandemic, we no longer have to rely solely on curling up in our homes, shutting down schools and businesses, physical distancing and wearing masks for the unpredictable future.

We now have an effective and essential tool to slow the spread and reduce the serious consequences of serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths: the COVID-19 vaccine.

The SC Medical Association encourages all eligible Southern Carolinians to get vaccinated. The members of the association are all doctors who practice in our state in all specialties and all places. Therefore, in making this recommendation, we are more than just doctors. We are your neighbors. We are your friends. We are your local doctors. Our children go to school and play with your children.

We want the same things you want: we want our families to be safe. We want our children to go back to school. We don’t want masks to become a staple. We want to regain life as we knew it before the pandemic.

Of course, there is a lot of fear, mistrust and confusion about the vaccine. It’s amazing how quickly science has been able to respond to the pandemic by developing an effective vaccine, and that speed has caused many to question its safety.

The most compelling fact to combat this fear is that doctors lead by example in believing that the vaccine is safe and effective.

According to a study by the American Medical Association published in June, 96% of physicians surveyed nationwide were fully vaccinated, with no significant difference in vaccination rates between regions.

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In contrast, according to the most recent data from SC’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, only 46% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated, even though vaccines are readily available in countless places.

This percentage must increase if we hope to achieve collective immunity, which will make it more difficult for the disease to spread from one person to another and its mutation. Although collective immunity is not a new concept, it is still under study when it comes to COVID-19.

No one knows the magic percentage, but based on emerging evidence, DHEC has set a target of 70% of all South Carolinians vaccinated.

As the number of viruses increases, we may need to use familiar mitigation strategies such as masks and physical distancing in some places. To find out when and where these strategies are appropriate, the association recommends that people follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC.

Due to the dynamic and ever-changing environment we find ourselves in, these recommendations may change from month to month or even week to week. This does not mean that the recommendations are invalid. It just means that our public health experts are paying attention and changing course as the pandemic progresses and new evidence emerges.

We’re all in the same boat, and like you, I’m sick of it. However, there are encouraging signs that if we increase vaccination rates and practice targeted mitigation strategies, we can finally contain this virus as best we can, end the pandemic and return to more normal patterns like us. we all wish it.

It depends on all of us.

John C. Ropp III, MD, is president of the South Carolina Medical Association.


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