U.S. teeters between vaccines’ rising successes and pandemic’s fourth wave

vaccine-150x150The coronavirus vaccine has shown powerful protective qualities when medical scientists scrutinized its large-scale results in real life.

It has demonstrated great potency in safeguarding kids ages 12-15, in early test results from the shots’ makers.

The inoculation appears to be lasting, ensuring patients for at least six months after did not suffer serious infection or hospitalization.

It may be that those who have gotten the virus and recuperated may need just one dose of two-shot vaccines, studies have shown.

The shots have proven to have such good outcomes that federal health officials say the vaccinated, with precautions (like continued mask wearing), may be good to start traveling more freely because it poses low risks.

Worries about a fourth wave

With all the seeming sunshine radiating this spring on the success of coronavirus vaccinations, big, dark storm clouds have rumbled up, too, as it appears that the nation is experiencing a fourth wave of infections — fingers crossed, maybe with fewer deaths.

The crush to call off public health measures targeted at quelling the pandemic, combined with individual laxity from coast to coast, has led to an uptick in reported coronavirus infections — reversing a downward trend that had run for weeks, experts say.

In Michigan, and other areas of the Midwest, the concern is running high as health officials say their rising coronavirus cases likely involve a variant first identified in Britain and known as B117. It is overtaking the original coronavirus and is showing, as medical investigators feared, that it can spread more easily and be more deadly.

Existing vaccines appear to work against B117, though maybe not as effectively as against the original virus and depending on the exact product.

But, as the Biden Administration has made clear, the country is in a “life and death” race to get tens of millions of us vaccinated before not only B117, but other coronavirus variants spread and even get out of control.

Even political opponents have been forced to conceded that the new administration has, indeed, jumpstarted a campaign to increase vaccinations and where people can get them, notably seeking to overcome lingering challenges with hesitancy and equity in the inoculation efforts. Their campaigns are complicated and tough, as the New York Times reported, focusing on Maryland’s efforts.

The administration has pledged to double its vaccination targets, and, as of the first weekend in April, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 150 million vaccinations had been administered. Biden wants 200 million vaccinations administered in his first 100 days.

Still, supplies  lag demand, especially as states and local governments, pressed by the federal government, keep widening eligibility for the free shots — with more and more locales, like Virginia, now inviting appointments from everyone older than 16 or 18. It also isn’t helpful that human errors have ruined millions of doses in a Baltimore facility making Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

The pandemic has killed more than 550,000 Americans and infected more than 30 million of us.

Re-opening and getting distracted from safeguards

But even with that sizable number of cases, and larger populations likely already infected and recovered, and with a third or so of U.S. adults vaccinated — including almost three-quarters of seniors 65 and older — the nation still is far from herd immunity, experts say.

That has not stopped the re-opening, or imminent return of restaurants, bars, gyms, retail outlets, personal care businesses, movie theaters, amusement parks, and, yes, schools.

Political partisans are pressing for even faster resumption of pre-pandemic normality, even seeking to create faux controversies over the cards that the vaccinated receive — which some want to make crazy over by calling them vaccine passports. Those bent out of shape over various means of vaccination proof apparently have never enrolled youngsters in schools or camps, traveled beyond the country’s borders, or worked in health care — all settings that require documentation of various inoculations.

Let’s not get distracted. The pandemic is far from over. The weather may be warming. But experts still caution that we need to keep our great hygiene (especially hand washing), face covering, distancing, and sticking close, mostly around people in our households and we know well. When given the opportunity, we should get vaccinated. Then we can hang out more safely with others who also have had their shots. We still need to be cautious and act responsibly and with care.

In my practice, I see not only the harms that patients suffer while seeking medical services, but also the damages that can be inflicted on them by an array of awful circumstances and things, including: dangerous drugs, risky and defective products, abuse and neglect in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and car, motorcycle, and truck crashes. In these cases, a crowd of problem people and institutions — these can include doctors, hospitals, insurers, regulators, and politicians — may press victims to move on, settle up, and they fast forget the lonely agony of the suffering.

It can, however, take a long time for patients to recover from terrible illness or injury. Harms can last a lifetime. Patients may need medical services, as well as financial and other support for months or years. They also need closure and justice for wrongs done, as well as the sense that they may be able to help others avoid the problems that afflicted them.

We are not done with the coronavirus and the huge trauma it has inflicted on us all. We’ve got further to go before we can claim to have beaten Covid-19 into submission, so please, let’s all stay safe and hang tough.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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