To Vax or Not to Vax, that is the Question (but really shouldn’t be)

Facts:

· COVID-19 is a deadly virus and has already resulted in nearly 640,000 deaths in the United States to date. It is not “just like the flu”, and it is not a hoax.

· Serious infection can occur regardless of age or health condition, including among children.

· Anyone (children included) who becomes infected, seriously or not, becomes a carrier of the virus and is apt to infect others while their illness remains contagious.

· Instances of asymptomatic infection have been common with COVID-19, so even though someone may experience no symptoms or only minor symptoms, they are likely to be transmitting the virus to those around them, some of whom may very well become seriously ill and die.

· The unvaccinated represent the vast majority of cases of serious illness and death currently occurring in our communities and stressing the capacity of our health care system and hospitals.

· All vaccines currently available in the U.S. are highly effective against all known variants.

· Side effects of receiving the vaccines available in the U.S. (other than a normal acute immune response) do occur, but are rare.

· The vaccines available in the U.S. have been well tolerated by tens of millions of people. They are safe.

· No vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection, but fully vaccinated people are at a greatly reduced risk of developing serious illness.

· The Delta variant is very prevalent in the United States and is more contagious than previous strains.

· Breakthrough infections can and do occur among the fully vaccinated, particularly with the Delta variant.

· Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others.

· Low vaccination coverage in many communities is driving the current rapid surge in cases involving the Delta variant, which also increases the chances that even more concerning variants could emerge.

· Vaccinated individuals are at much reduced risk to contract, carry, or transmit the virus.

· Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community and is ultimately the best way for us to get control of the virus, ensure healthcare resources do not become overwhelmed, and return to whatever normalcy may mean in a post-pandemic world.

To Mask or Not to Mask, that Apparently is also a Question (and also really shouldn’t be)

More facts:

· The COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted via respiration, most commonly via inhalation and exhalation of respiratory droplets and particles.

· The presence of a properly designed, properly worn mask presents a local barrier limiting the passage of respiratory droplets and particles.

· Wearing a mask thereby lowers the probability of viral transmission directly at the source of both exhalation and inhalation.

· Wearing a mask is most important in this regard when in crowded, indoor spaces, but can be protective under all circumstances.

· Wearing a mask may be a minor inconvenience (for most of us), but is an important means of limiting the spread of COVID-19 while so many people remain unvaccinated and the virus so widespread.

In short, a simple common-sense assessment indicates that mask wearing is a simple, prudent way to limit the continued spread of the virus. I don’t know of anyone who particularly enjoys wearing a mask. However, in our current context, having a suitable barrier immediately surrounding and isolating the mouth and nose at the primary source of transmission and exposure represents a simple, straightforward method of helping limit the spread of the virus, thus protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us.

In view of the remaining percentage of unvaccinated people in the U.S., the current wide-spread prevalence of the Delta variant, and the probability that continued circulation of the virus in our communities will likely result in the creation of even more challenging variants, getting vaccinated (in particular) and wearing masks (because of where we are with the pandemic at present), remain key components of mitigating these risks and allowing us to ultimately gain control over the pandemic. So, we should probably stop making this into some kind of foolishly contentious political, religious, or personal rights issue, and just do the obvious right thing with respect to the well-being of our neighbors and our communities.

Funny to recognize that would also get us back to normalcy in the fastest possible manner and would best protect our personal interests, our various freedoms, and our economic interests as well.

Come on people! This should not be an area of question or contention! Too many continue to die from completely preventable COVID-19 infections, leaving friends and loved ones behind to grieve and to wonder “what if?” in their wake. For the sake of your own health, for the sake of your loved ones, and for the sake of your community please take advantage of the many available options to get vaccinated, and please continue to wear a mask (over both your nose and mouth) when in close contact with others (particularly the unvaccinated) and in crowded spaces.

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