If you are among those who have already received your first COVID19 vaccine, the J&J one-shot, or awaiting only your second vaccine dose, then thank you for doing your part, and we’ll see you here again, same time, same place next week. Please go visit and hug your vaccinated parent or grandparents, or have a tailgate or barbecue with vaccinated friends and neighbors...you know, pre-March 2020 normal stuff.
This is for all the rest of you. Across the nation nearly one-half of our adult age population, more than 130-million, have received at least their initial dose of one of the several FDA approved and sanctioned for emergency use, COVID 19 vaccines. Our percentage is a bit lower in Georgia, but we are catching up, and as of this week, anyone over the age of 16, more than 30-days after having their last COVID19 symptoms or without direction to the contrary from their physician is eligible to receive a COVID19 vaccine. And now as virtually our entire adult-age population is eligible, we have very quickly shifted from the position of demand exceeding supply to “no appointment necessary,” walk-in vaccination and locations with vaccine supply in need of patient arms that may need to be destroyed or wasted at the end of each day. Unused doses in vials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be used within 12-hours of being thawed, or those doses are wasted and destroyed.
Two more severe variants of this virus, each more contagious and with more highly critical symptoms, have already made it into the U.S. The United Kingdom variant appears to be causing the majority of current cases in Georgia, and to our north in Canada, a Brazilian variant has swamped hospitals in British Columbia and Montreal and both provinces have returned to 8 p.m. home curfews and only essential workers traveling dayside. The entire U.S./Canadian border is currently closed. As I shared here last week, though there are only roughly 40-million Canadians, they have no domestic vaccine production facilities for the COVID19 vaccines, and their greatest trading partner and next door neighbor keeps buying up virtually all available global supply (US).
I am happy to report I am currently Pfizer double-dosed. And I have also had the flu vaccine twice in a year. I’m not anymore a fan of needles than the next guy, but I have a frail and medically fragile mother, who just barely survived COVID19, twin grandsons born 9-weeks prematurely (now healthy and seven months old), and an immune-compromised child. I got vaccinated for all of them, but I also did that for you and would do it again. At least in my lifetime vaccines have saved me from the dangers of polio, measles, mumps, multiple strains of the flu, and hopefully any repeat of one horrific episode in this lifetime of shingles.
And with some minor bumps in the road for the Astra Zeneca and J&J vaccines, all of those in broad circulation and use have efficacy rates of nearly 80-95%. In clinical trials underway at present, the Pfizer vaccine has a 99% effective rate in teens and pre-teens from age 12-16. We will vaccinate our teen daughter Olivia as soon as the FDA clears that vaccine for use among teens. The average flu vaccine, which you should also get each year, typically has an effective rate of just over 50%, as that single dose is designed to combat multiple flu strains simultaneously.
These vaccines do not contain the Mercury-based preservative, Thimerosal, controversial for its use in multiple other more common vaccines. Though the Clinical Trial timeline was compressed, and regulatory speed bumps were expedited, scientists across the globe did not cut corners, skip steps or deliver vaccines that are not safe, as most all of those same doctors and scientists have been vaccinated themselves.
There is no cost, no co-pay and in an expanding number of harder to reach communities, federal grants will make possible vaccine vans going door to door and bringing this opportunity to you. If that knock comes, and you have still been resisting, sit down and take your shot. On my first dose, I barely even felt the needle enter my right arm. During yoga practice the afternoon after dose # 2, I felt only the equivalent of a small bruise on that right arm at the inoculation site. And that remained the extent of my vaccine reaction symptoms.
My father drilled into my brain during my own adolescence - you can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. The choice here is clear as well. Which one are you going to choose?