If you have been in the “wait and see” category when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, wait no more. With the delta variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreading in our communities, we have the ability to protect our families, friends and neighbors from serious illness and hospitalization by getting vaccinated now.
I have seen and heard the conflicting opinions in the community, in the news, and on social media. I implore you to look at the research and the local data. The numbers don’t lie. They provide clear evidence of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness here in our community.
Our data shows a striking difference between hospitalized patients who have been fully vaccinated and those who have not – with only a small number of vaccinated individuals requiring a hospital stay. In fact, in the month August, about 90% of WellSpan hospital admissions for COVID-19 were individuals who were not fully vaccinated.
Our numbers also paint a clear picture of how sick unvaccinated patients are, compared to those who have protection from the vaccine. Very few vaccinated individuals require a ventilator compared to those who are unvaccinated.
The local statistics are clear: vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization.
With delta, the time is now
Variants of COVID-19 have continued to evolve, with the current concern being the delta variant. First detected in India, this variant is much more contagious and highly transmissible compared to previous strains.
With the first strain, an infected person could pass the virus onto two people on average. With the delta variant, an infected person has the potential to spread it to as many as six or seven others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masking can help to prevent that transmission, but vaccinations still are the gold standard for those who are eligible to get the shot.
Another difference we are seeing with delta is that patients seeking care are trending younger. The average age of those hospitalized for COVID-19 at WellSpan hospitals in December 2020, at the height of the winter surge, was almost 70 years old. In August 2021, it was much closer to 60. That is because a much higher percentage of our senior citizens have gotten vaccinated. Again, the facts clearly show that the time to act is now, to protect our friends and neighbors.
Vaccine easily available
For more than 20 months, our WellSpan care team members have shown up every hour of every day to help our friends and neighbors through this pandemic. You can help, too. Mask up and join the more than 168 million Americans who have gotten vaccinated.
WellSpan’s goal is to make it exceptionally easy for everyone to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We are providing vaccines at more than 30 locations across our region. The public can schedule vaccinations through MyWellSpan or by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-851-3641. Patients younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
If you are hesitant or taking a “wait and see” approach, I encourage you to understand the science and get vaccinated. The data shows that the COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective. It works against the new delta variant of the virus. It does not cause infertility as originally alleged by a German scientist; clinical trials have completely disproven that. And while the vaccine is new, the process to make the vaccine, using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, has actually been used for more than a decade in a variety of ways.
The evidence supporting this vaccine simply gets stronger every day. There is no need to wait and see. The time is now to act.
Dr. Tony Aquilina is Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive, WellSpan Health.
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