Physicians urge residents to take vaccine

We know you are all tired of COVID, and so are we. No one wants this pandemic to end more than the organizations listed below. If you are vaccinated, you probably feel like you have done your part and are ready for the world to return to normal. If you are unvaccinated, you are likely stressed due to repeated calls for you to be vaccinated. We recognize that your decision to remain unvaccinated is deeply personal and based on real questions and concerns. We represent health care providers who have seen far too many of our fellow citizens become ill and die because of this disease, including children. We join all of you in wanting this to go away, but for that to happen it’s going to take all of us. We respectfully request that those currently unvaccinated reconsider their decision. The benefits of getting vaccinated FAR outweigh any potential risk. There are many unique situations, including individuals with chronic illnesses, young women who are pregnant or are considering having children, and others for whom the vaccination gives them pause. For those who have questions and concerns, we urge you to check with your personal physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician you may know a physician, a nurse practitioner or other trusted health care professional to whom you could speak. Second, we ask that you not only consider the benefit of the vaccine by greatly reducing your risk of severe illness or hospitalization, but also consider the impact of the vaccine in helping to protect those you love. As school starts in a few weeks, there are thousands of Alabamians 12 and under who aren’t eligible for the vaccine. We need to be sure their teachers, parents and older siblings get vaccinated so they don’t risk spreading disease to these children. Research has shown that the new Delta variant, now the most common strain of the virus, is much more contagious with 1000 times more viral particles than the original virus. On average, those who get infected with this new strain can infect up to eight more people, with the time it takes to get exposed often being a minute or less. As evidence of that infectiousness, the 7-day average of both cases and hospitalizations have increased exponentially in the past week. On July 1 there were 204 COVID-positive patients in hospitals statewide; on August 1 there were 1447. In addition, Alabama’s rate of positive tests is currently 22.1 percent, a rate we have not seen since January when our all-time high was 22.3 percent. While wearing masks and keeping safe distances have been important protections against the virus, the most powerful tool we have is the vaccine, a vaccine that is safe, free, and proven to be highly effective. If you’re not yet vaccinated, we urge you reconsider. Get the facts; talk with your physician and ask questions. Alabama’s vaccination rate is the lowest in the country. This creates the perfect environment for the virus to spread quickly. The vaccine represents the best defense to protect your health, as well as those you love. For more information to help with your decision, visit Signed: Alabama Hospital Association, Don Williamson, MD, President Alabama Nursing Home Association, Brandon Farmer, President/CEO Alabama State Nurses Association, John Ziegler, Executive Director Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Tim Vines, President/CEO Medical Association of the State of Alabama, Mark Jackson, Executive Director