Opinion | Susan Knopf: What are you waiting for?
For the Record
This week, I begged a girlfriend from ski school to get a COVID-19 vaccine. She said she was waiting for a safer vaccine. You might as well say you’re waiting to win the lottery.
The vaccines are safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Britain’s National Health Service, the chance of getting a serious adverse reaction following vaccination is infinitesimally small; there have been just a handful of cases among millions vaccinated. If you don’t like those odds, then you really shouldn’t play the lottery.
The Colorado Lottery says the chance of winning is about 1 in 3.84 million. You might want to give up driving; you have a 1 in 107 chance of dying in a car crash, according to the National Safety Council. You probably don’t want to own a gun; the council says the chance of dying from gun assault is 1 in 289.
If you are unvaccinated, the chance of being hospitalized and dying of COVID-19 is much higher than the risk of a serious adverse reaction following vaccination. In an interesting article last fall, Forbes estimated COVID-19 increased the chance of dying by 10%. Interpreting CDC data, the magazine said climbing Mount Everest is less risky for a 70 year old than catching COVID-19!
The COVID-19 vaccine looks like a pretty good shot to me. I also wouldn’t worry which vaccine to take. If you have a medical condition and you’re concerned, ask your doctor.
According to the Summit County website, 74% of us are fully vaccinated, and nearly 82% have received at least one vaccine. Yay us! But this is a resort town. People from every corner of the earth show up here. They show up unvaccinated. They show up with the delta variant, which is more contagious, more deadly and infecting younger people.
We can’t afford to let our tourists shut down our economy. We need to protect ourselves.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommends wearing a mask if you are in a place where there is a low vaccination rate. For your information, El Paso County reports less than 54% of those eligible are vaccinated. That is not the level to create herd immunity. And that’s where my girlfriend lives.
According to Yale Medicine, there isn’t a magic number for herd immunity.
“Measles, for example, spreads so easily that an estimated 95% of a population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity,” wrote Carrie MacMillian, a clinical writer for Yale Medicine. “In turn, the remaining 5% have protection because, at 95% coverage, measles will no longer spread. For polio, the threshold is about 80%.”
It’s been speculated that because COVID-19 spreads easily and continues to mutate, the higher 95% threshold will likely need to be reached to achieve herd immunity.
NBC reports nearly everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 has one thing in common: They’re unvaccinated. Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist in the critical care department at Denver’s National Jewish Health, told NBC, “None of our (intensive care unit) patients has been vaccinated.”
For the record, COVID-19 is not about politics. It’s a disease. You can get it. You can die. Please don’t die. Get vaccinated.
My girlfriend is a member of the conservative-Christian political right. I told her the old joke about the man who was caught in a flood and turned away all offers of help, saying God would provide. The sheriff’s deputy came by in an SUV and urged the man to leave his home. He declined. As the first floor flooded, an emergency rescue crew begged the man to come away in their boat. The man said no. Finally, a chopper found the man on the roof of his house after the second floor flooded. Still he refused help, saying God would provide.
The man was swept away in the flood and died. When he got to the pearly gates, he asked God, “What happened?”
God said, “I sent an SUV, a boat and a helicopter. What were you waiting for?”
God made man. Man found science, and he used science to make a vaccine. Take the vaccine!
Do you want to get to the pearly gates and ask God, “What happened?” and have him tell you, “I gave you several vaccines from which to choose. What were you waiting for?”
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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