It’s that time of year to offer seasonal greetings and best wishes for happiness, prosperity, hope, peace, and goodwill.
May many good things especially go to the courageous, beleaguered, and stalwart folks struggling with the coronavirus pandemic 24-7 (including through the holidays), notably in health care, as first responders, and, of course, in service for our country.
To everyone who reads this blog, of course, all the best and, once more, a major appeal in these uncertain times:
Please listen to bona fide, credentialed, experienced experts in science and medicine. And especially listen to those with serious stakes in battling infectious diseases and protecting the public’s health.
If you haven’t done so already, please get vaccinated — fully. This means everyone older than 16 getting two shots, preferably of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, federal officials say. And it means getting a booster shot. It should occur two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or six months after finishing the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination regimen.
Yes, Santa, science shows vaccines are a health gift
Coronavirus shots have shown themselves to be safe and highly effective (preventing more than 1 million deaths already, by some estimates), notably when patients have gotten the recommended multiple doses (three shots of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines). The vaccines provide high levels of protection from serious illness (leading to hospitalization) and deaths. They have been huge difference-makers in protecting the vaccinated public against the raging and deadly Delta variant. With multiple doses, patients have a strong shield against the rapid-spreading Omicron variant, experts say.
They add that it is important to get youngsters 5 and older vaccinated, too.
Don’t let the naysaying ninnies disarm and lead you to illness and worse. The coronavirus is killing more than 1,200 people each day and has claimed more than 800,000 lives already. It has infected more than 50 million Americans, and especially as Omicron tears across the country, officials are reporting more than 125,000 new cases on average each day. Colleges and universities have been hard hit by spiking coronavirus infections, as have professional sports leagues.
Almost 70,000 patients have been hospitalized on a daily average, with doctors reporting a scary, rising wave of coronavirus illnesses serious enough to require institutional care.
The nation’s health care system was not designed to be battered like this and for so sustained a time. The people who provide crucial front-line treatment of all the sick and injured are exhausted, demoralized, and too many have walked away because they say they cannot put their own lives at risk to battle what has become a preventable medical catastrophe.
To those who argue that they have the right to be left alone and cannot bother to cover their faces, distance, get vaccinated fully, and maybe now limit their activities a bit, researchers have come up with another startling reason why the nation needs to quell this pandemic — its staggering cost. A new study finds that U.S. health spending skyrocketed by almost 10% in 2020 largely due to the huge sums the federal government expended to battle the coronavirus. The nation’s $4 trillion-plus health care spending meant that 1 in 5 dollars in the economy went to health care.
Schedule that booster shot, pronto
Federal officials say that 200 million Americans have gotten vaccinated — with one shot of J&J or two shots of Pfizer or Moderna. But just 58 million of us have gotten the booster. That is far too few, especially as Omicron threatens.
The coronavirus has savaged seniors, killing an estimated 1 out of every 100 people in this country older than 65. With the scientific evidence available, experts have urged — with all possible emphasis — people older than 50 to get booster shots, pronto. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have set up conditions for another disaster by plodding along in getting residents protective boosters, not to mention in getting their staff vaccinated. How can federal and state regulators allow this?
As a nation that prides itself for having people who are thoughtful, caring, considerate, and compassionate, how can we give any time or attention to the wild, extreme nonsense that continues to proliferate about the coronavirus and appropriate medical responses to it? How is it a righteous thing for politicians and even a political party to promote partisan interests and disinformation that puts their own faithful at proven higher risk of coronavirus infection, hospitalization, and death?
For those who, incorrectly, espouse an egomaniacal insistence that common sense public health measures against the coronavirus somehow infringe on their inviable rights, please get real. You don’t have the right to start a camp fire next to your neighbor’s house during a wind storm. You can’t jump in your vehicle without a seat belt, intoxicated, and race down the wrong side of the road. Your partner would be outraged if your fooled around with others and passed on to many a sexually transmitted infection. Weren’t you the same folks who blew up when a former president, seeking to quell an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, allowed infected U.S. health care workers to return home for care in special treatment facilities?
We are not done with the coronavirus and the huge trauma it has inflicted on us all. Please get tested, if appropriate, AND get vaccinated, AND get those booster shots. Officials are trying to make it as easy and convenient, as possible — and it’s free. If you’re uncertain about getting a booster or optimizing your mixing and matching of coronavirus shots, talk to your doctor, pronto. And, while you’re at it, ask about and get your annual flu shot.
We cannot ignore disease and death and embrace nihilism and fatalism. We cannot allow anti-science fanatics to destroy centuries of progress with the viral spread of ever-wilder fantasies and conspiracies. Our health system, the envy of the world, cannot be a toy that will be smashed and ruined by selfish belligerence. We need to know more about Omicron’s threat. But we’ve seen already how Delta is killing us. Do we want worse? We have seen better, including periods of relative normalcy in 2021. Here’s a big year’s end wish for better thinking and times, as well as good health, to prevail for us all!