LETTER TO THE EDITOR: In the red zone
The bad news is we have entered the red zone, to use a football metaphor.
We have entered a new and final stage in the fight to eliminate the pandemic with a new vaccine and several more to follow. That’s the good news.
The bad news is we have entered the red zone, to use a football metaphor. In football, the last 20 yards to reach the goal line are the hardest. The defense has less ground to defend, which makes it easier to block a run or pass.
We have reached the 20-yard line in the pandemic by relying on testing, face masks, social distancing, contact tracing and quarantine. Now we have a new offensive weapon, a highly effective and safe vaccine. While the vaccine is new, the technology to develop it is 20 years old. The FDA has approved the vaccine without compromising the safety of it. It’s over 95% effective in preventing disease with clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people.
However, this vaccine and the others to follow have to overcome several major obstacles: vaccine hesitancy, vaccine and COVID-19 denial, and the belief that COVID is nothing worse than the flu. Most cases are mild, but there is no guarantee that they will not become “long haulers” with debilitating symptoms for weeks and months. There’s also no guarantee that mild cases will not pass the virus on to a family member, friend or co-worker, who might develop serious symptoms with hospitalization or death.
We now have over 300,000 deaths in this country and another 60,000 projected before the New Year. Beltrami County has 32 deaths and the number is increasing.
Every one of us has a personal decision to make: whether to get vaccinated or not, when our turn comes up. Already the misinformation, disinformation and myths are running wild. As you make your decision, carefully consider where you get your information. Use reliable and credible sources, such as your health provider, Sanford Health, Beltrami County Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control. Please avoid social media and random websites.
We are close to ending this pandemic and returning to a more normal way of life for businesses, religion, education, sports, recreation, social and family living. We can control our future and not let a virus dictate how we live. We can make the last 20 yards and cross the goal line. These vaccines are true medical miracles, but only if we take advantage of them.
Ralph D. Morris, Bemidji, is a retired public health physician.