As I sit in the walk-in vaccination clinic week after week helping to vaccinate the citizens of Cache Valley against COVID, it occurs to me that we now have a whole new set of jargon we were not previously familiar with. We have become familiar with words like pandemic, variants, Moderna, incubation and quarantine. That’s only a few.
I am also taken back to think that it is now two years that we have been dealing with this new normal. Most of us have not been faced with rampant diseases that are so opportunistic. Most of us don’t remember smallpox, polio or diphtheria. I think initially many were relieved to think this virus is only serious and fatal to the aged and they are expendable. Oh well, they are at the end of their lives. If there has to be a group, that is the most acceptable. Sacrificial lambs. They were the population lining up to get vaccinated and waiting hours, patiently, if they made it to January 2021.
But it is not the nature of viruses to remain the same. As COVID evolves to delta and mu and now omicron, it becomes a crap shoot which populace or age group will be most vulnerable. When people talk about delaying getting the vaccine to see the long-term effects, I wonder what about the long-term effects if you survive the disease?
Each variant seeks the least protected, the most vulnerable. We seem to be moving down the line. Given the fact that there are so many in the world and in our own country not yet vaccinated, it is likely the virus will attack children who are ineligible or unvaccinated.
The virus has killed over 800,000 people in the United States alone and it is not done yet. That is close to the populations of Seattle or San Francisco.
Because our world is so interconnected in so many ways, until we vaccinate much of the globe we will continue to have new variants pop up to threaten our lives. The good news is you can do something about it in your circle of influence. The more we vaccinate at all levels the less chance the virus has of winning.
It is not about political party, religion or what language you speak. It is about getting your immune system to begin making the antibodies to fight this disease. Just like many childhood diseases, to fight COVID we need a booster to keep it effective.
One issue that is keeping our numbers and deaths so high is the low numbers of fully vaccinated people. And there is an inadvertent fallout of having so many people unvaccinated. Our behavior is sucking the energy out of our health care personnel and especially our nurses. They are exhausted with caring for people who will not care for themselves, who will not listen to reason or science. They are leaving in droves.
Even if we could graduate all the students currently in the nursing education pipeline, it would not fill the void. We are killing them virally and we are sucking the soul out of the once lauded profession. The backlash of that affects both emergency and scheduled surgeries. If you show up with a heart attack and need a stent placed, or have your teenage son in the ER with spinal meningitis or your 7-year-old in the ER for an emergency appendectomy, you might be out of luck. The beds might be filled and no extra staff. Your loved one might be what is called collateral damage.
Think about it. Let’s be done with this. Get vaccinated.
Patricia Sadoski, Logan, is a retired nurse and senior advocate.