Guest Editorial: Take the ‘darned’ vaccine

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has made the phrase “wear the damn mask” one of the most quoted requests in 2020. And now, as both Moderna and Pfizer have recently submitted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for two vaccines which would immediately benefit front-line workers and those hospitalized, it looks like real life-saving measures remain just days away.

On Nov. 30, Vice President Mike Pence told governors during a conference call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force that some doses of the vaccine could begin to be distributed as early as mid-December.

But the U.S. won’t be the first nation to approve a vaccine and began administering it to the public.

Breaking news Dec. 1 confirmed that the United Kingdom has become the first country in the West to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for public use. British officials say the vaccine, developed jointly by American drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, will be distributed starting next week.

In the coming days, many predict that EUA will be approved for either Pfizer, Moderna, or both pharmaceutical companies.

At that point, the arduous task of distributing the vaccine will begin—and not a moment too soon.

Florida recently joined California and Texas as the only U.S. states or territories to record over one million cases of COVID-19. As for those who will receive the vaccine first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially voted Tuesday to recommend that health care workers and long-term care (LTC) facility residents should be the first Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Their decision remains prudent with many hospitals facing a severe shortage of doctors and nurses because these frontline workers have contracted the virus—many even losing their lives. As for LTC facilities, the most recent available data reveals that while they make up eight percent of all coronavirus cases, their residents represent more than 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
The CDC routinely publishes recommendations for adult and childhood vaccination which include immunization against influenza, tetanus-diphtheria, human papillomavirus, herpes zoster, measles-mumps-rubella and streptococcus pneumoniae. Still, many American adults remain woefully and inadequately vaccinated.

Hogan’s unforgettable phrase makes sense— we must all be vaccinated. Still, local officials will need to ensure that neither operational or systemic barriers hinder the process.

Adult vaccination noncompliance has historically occurred because of factors which include low priority, lack of information, fear or opposition to vaccines, cost and availability. We can ill-afford for these factors to keep us cowering in our homes, unable to safely return to a semblance of normal, separated from our loved ones or unable to secure gainful employment—all the while waiting for our “number” to be called.

Protect yourself and others. When the vaccine becomes available, get in line, roll up your sleeve and take the “darned” thing.

(Reprinted from the Washington Informer)

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