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Help stop the pandemic by getting vaccinated

Safety | Wellness | March 16, 2021
Raymond Lee, MD receives first COVID-19 vaccination
ED doctor notes “arrival of the vaccines injected hope and turned the tide in our fight against COVID-19."

Perhaps THE most pressing question in the world today is ‘when will the coronavirus pandemic end?’ The good news is that a glimmer of hope is now in sight.

“The arrival of the vaccines injected hope and turned the tide in our fight against COVID-19,” says Raymond Lee, MD, emergency medicine physician and chief of staff of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

Best hope of ending pandemic

While nobody can reliably predict the end of the pandemic, scientists and medical experts widely agree that vaccines are a critical tool in drawing down the pandemic as we know it.

“Vaccination against transmissible illnesses is one of the most significant public health triumphs in the last century; it remains the most powerful tool we have against COVID-19,” says Dr. Lee. “The task before us is to get the vaccines into people’s arms as quickly and safely as we can. And there is some urgency to this—getting everyone vaccinated is our best hope of ending this pandemic and returning to normal.”

“The arrival of the vaccines injected hope and turned the tide in our fight against COVID-19.” 

The decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine offers each of us an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to worldwide efforts to end the scourge of this current pandemic.

How vaccines help

The following facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain how:

  • Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to COVID-19 or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines are a powerful primary defense that teaches your immune system to recognize and fight the virus if you are exposed.
  • All currently approved and available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States have shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine—when you are eligible and as vaccines become available—will also help keep you from getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Early data show that that the vaccines do help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19.

Scientists continue to study

Yet for all that is currently understood about the vaccines, unknowns about the vaccines’ overall ability to help disrupt or end the coronavirus pandemic still exist. A partial list of key unknowns that are actively being studied by scientists and medical experts follows:

  • How effective are vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID-19 from one person to others?
  • How long does the COVID-19 vaccine protect those who receive the immunization?
  • What amount of “natural protection” occurs after acquiring COVID-19?
  • What’s the effectiveness of the vaccines in protecting individuals against some newer, and potentially future, variants of the virus?

“While some unknowns about the COVID-19 vaccines exist, it is important to appreciate what we know,” says Dr. Lee. “We know the vaccines have been rigorously tested and are safe. We know the vaccines can protect you from COVID-19 infection and keep you from dying or becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19. Evidence also suggests the vaccines likely can reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection.”

Keep following guidelines

Due to these (and other) unknowns, Dr. Lee and medical experts continue to urge everyone – including those who have been vaccinated – to be patient and to follow state and CDC guidelines, especially those requiring mask wearing and social distancing. While coronavirus safety remains highly important, vaccines provide the greatest opportunity to end the pandemic. 

“As a physician, I know vaccination is a deeply personal decision,” says Dr. Lee. “I encourage everyone to ask questions and to be as informed as they can about the COVID-19 vaccines.

As a public health advocate, he says the decisions we make about COVID vaccination will have a profound impact on the lives of others.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community in this pandemic,” says Dr. Lee. “That is why I chose to receive a COVID vaccine – to protect myself and my family, and to keep my patients and those around me safe. When the time comes for my family members to be vaccinated, I will urge them to do so. As President Obama said, ‘our destinies are bound together.’ Together, we can bring an end to this pandemic and reclaim our future.”

Photo:  Raymond Lee, MD, emergency medicine physician and chief of staff of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington. Dr. Lee was among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in late December.

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