Importance of Vaccination against Covid-19

With cases of Covid-19 increasing back up, it is now even more crucial that we vaccinate as many people as we can. What’s causing the recent increase? The low vaccination rate. Of course the decreased precautions that have followed loosening of restrictions– social distancing, hand washing, avoiding crowds- are contributing to it too. Where are we seeing the increased cases most however? In those pockets where there is low vaccination rates, where the new delta variant is thriving!

The Alpha variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and we first saw it in US in December 2020.  It spread considerably faster than the original virus. The Beta variant, first detected in South Africa also at the end of the year and it was detected in the US towards end of January 2021. The gamma variant was first seen in the US from travelers from Brazil in January 2021. The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, has already become the most dominant variant of the virus in United States.

The new delta variant is a lot more contagious. It spreads more than 200x faster than the original coronavirus and still considerably faster than the alpha variant. Even if you don’t think you are high risk and will be fine – please reconsider. People infected with the delta variant were found to have 1000x more copies in their lungs compared to those infected by the original strain. This changes the game. If you are unvaccinated, you may not be as low risk as you thought you were a year ago.

More importantly, however, the more we let this virus spread around, the more variants we will have and the longer the pandemic will continue. Getting the whole community vaccinated is the key to stop its spread. How do the variants arise? The more the virus spreads, the more it has an opportunity to replicate and undergo mutations. Sometimes these mutations will make them more contagious, sometimes more severe.

The vaccines, particularly the mRNA vaccines, which are the PfizerBioNTech  and Moderna vaccines, are still very effective to the current variants as they induce a broad immune response involving a variety of antibodies. Data from CDC shows that over 99% of Covid-19 deaths in past several months were among those unvaccinated.  The mRNA vaccines have shown to be still very effective against covid-19 infections even from the delta variant. Studies have shown that the PfizerBioNTech vaccines was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the delta variant and 96% against hospitalization from it.

Data is also showing the vaccines are also reducing the spread of the virus. We can see from the top 5 highest vaccinated States that the new cases are relatively much fewer.  Vaccines are now widely available in most pharmacies. We are very lucky to be living in the United States as there are a lot of countries in the world who have vaccine shortage. The sooner we get more of our community vaccinated, the less the virus will have a chance to spread, replicate and mutate. Let’s get everyone vaccinated while our current vaccines are still very effective against the variants.  Please contribute to the wholesome progress that has been made towards ending the pandemic. The reduction in the cases until recently have been due to vaccines but a majority of the population has to be vaccinated for the suppression of covid-19 to be consistent. This is a team effort against a virus that killed millions. I ask you to please reconsider.

Please get vaccinated.

In medicine every decision we make involves weighing the risks versus the benefits.  There is no single treatment or medicine that one can 100% guarantee anyone of zero side effects.  Most side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines are mild.  Yes, some people may experience flu like symptoms and have muscle aches and chills. It’s only for a few days. Risk of anaphylaxis? Very very rare and more so in people with prior history of anaphylaxis to vaccines. Risk of myocarditis in teens? Very rare.  What are some of the known side effects of Covid-19: More than 4 million deaths.  Some of the other risks of Covid-19, besides death, are being placed on a ventilator for an undetermined period of time, shortness of breath and fatigue for many months, loss of smell and taste and the associated depression that comes with it for many months. Just to name a few. Yes, we don’t and can’t know the long-term side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine as Covid-19 itself has not been around long enough.  Do we know the long term side effects of having Covid-19? We do not.  How about long term effects after catching it twice? Or does that even matter if the illness is so severe that one does not get to live past to see its long term effects? 4 million people didn’t get a chance to live long enough to see the long term consequences of catching it. Waiting around to see future side effects in three years or giving into conspiracy theories is not going to help put this virus away. The whole community getting vaccinated will.

Please get vaccinated.

Having had Covid-19 is not going to give you immunity for more than a few months. Waiting around to see if the pandemic will go away on its own is also not going to help make it go away. Alabama is very under vaccinated,  at the bottom of the list of States, with only 33% of residents of Alabama having received Covid-19 vaccines. Therefore we will be seeing  – actually we already have- a lot more new cases of covid-19.

Please let’s get vaccinated. Let’s get our whole community vaccinated.

In the end, of course everyone does have a right to make his or her own decision.  As a physician I can present you the facts, benefits and risks to help you make an informed decision and give you my highest recommendation on the subject. Whether or not you will contribute to help end this  pandemic by getting vaccinated will be your decision to make.

 

Best,

Dr. Efe Sahinoglu

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