We are currently seeing a surge of COVID 19 in our community lead by the highly contagious Delta Variant. Happily, current vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing infection. While we have seen a few fully vaccinated patients come down with COVID 19, their infections tend to be much less severe than if they had not been vaccinated. For those not yet vaccinated I would highly encourage you do to so. As you contemplate this decision, please consider the following:
It’s becoming increasingly probable that most adults who do not get the vaccine will get the virus. The choice seems to be more and more, “Do I get the vaccine? Or do I get the virus?” Getting the vaccine is a personal choice. There are a lot of things we don’t know about the vaccine. Will I become ill? Will there by long term complications that we currently don’t know about? These are important things to consider, but the same questions can be asked about the virus. How sick will I become? Will I have long term complications?
In regards to the vaccine, other than the common short lived side effects of arm pain and flu like symptoms, we have seen very few serious side effects. As with any vaccine, there is the rare incidence of an acute serious allergic reaction. We have also seen a few cases of blood clots with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in women under age 50. There have also been extremely rare cases of heart inflammation. Historically, serious side effects to vaccines have usually shown up within the first 6 weeks. The COVID vaccines are under the most intense scrutiny of any vaccine in history and to date with over 350 million doses given in the US, serious side effect have remained extremely rare. To date, nothing has lead us to believe we will see serious side effects in the future.
In regards to the virus, symptoms can range from none or very mild symptoms such as a runny nose or slight cold to hospitalization and even death. Your risk of becoming seriously ill is directly correlated with your age and also chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, chronic kidney disease and chronic lung disease. While the risk of serious illness is less if you are younger, ongoing complications of COVID 19 such as shortness of breath, inability to taste and smell, and brain fog can happen even in the otherwise young and healthy. Inflammation of the arteries has also been documented. As with the vaccine, we don’t know if problems will show up from COVID 19 infection in a few years, but given the effects of the virus on so many parts of our body, I think the chances are high.
In summary, uncertainty has accompanied the COVID 19 pandemic since the start. This is a virus we’ve never seen before and are continuing to study. Recommendations change as we learn more. New technologies have been used to produce vaccines in record time. Can we be sure these vaccines are safe? What information can I trust? What does this all mean for me personally? I can’t blow away the COVID fog and know with certainty the answers to these questions, but I do know that hundreds of thousands have died and many more than that continue with long haul symptoms. Very few of the fully vaccinated are getting sick and serious side effects continue to be very rare. To me the safest path forward is clear.
Please get the vaccine.
Jeff Chappell, MD