Commentary: A refrigerator full of vaccines that could prevent thousands of deaths, millions of hospitalizations

A word or two about masks. Many of you know me. I have been a nurse for 28 years now and many of those years were spent working in a hospital setting. Wearing masks is just a part of what nurses do. Wearing a mask to protect myself from an airborne infectious disease that I did not want to get or take home was a normal thing. It meant nothing more than me not wanting to get your germs in my face. It is a piece of cloth that prevents droplets from your mouth coming to my mouth or nose and it protects me. With COVID, we look at it both ways, I don’t want to get your germs and you don’t want mine.

A mask to me meant nothing more then, than it does now. It was not a symbol of something else. Somehow, masks have taken on a few different meanings and it is time to get back to it being a real simple thing, protective. With the delta variant, wearing a mask in a crowded place with unvaccinated people would be a common sense thing to do. If you are vaccinated but may be in a risk category of immunocompromised, wearing a mask in public would also be a good decision right about now. It is not a statement, nor a restrictive measure, it is a protective one. Wear it if that is the right decision for you.
A word or two on vaccines. If you are wondering who you should listen to in a world of social media and misinformation, try public health. As a matter of fact, your local Medina County Public Health Unit has been around since 1944. The Hondo Anvil Herald, in a news clip from July 30th, 1965, writes: “Immunizations Smallpox, 2; Diptheria, 34; Pertussis (Whooping Cough), 16; Tetanus, 34; Polio, 18; Typhoid, 7; and Nursing field visits, 25.” The Weekly report goes on to talk about some other public health information, mostly preventative things. As we don’t vaccinate for Smallpox, Polio or Typhoid anymore, we do give childhood vaccines that prevent 14 different diseases.
The CDC says that among children born from 1994-2018, vaccinations will prevent an estimated 936,000 early deaths, 8 million hospitalizations, and 419 million illnesses.
We have been giving vaccines for a long time and it is time to look back and remind ourselves of the good vaccines do. We have prevented many people from getting sick, prevented outbreaks, prevented severe illness and death and continue to do so. Public health probably doesn’t get looked at much because of that word- prevention. If you don’t see it going on, then it isn’t something you need to worry about. This seems true and probably the reason public health lacks the glamour it deserves for saving lives. As simple as a mask is, so are vaccines.
We have a refrigerator full, come and see us at your earliest opportunity. We don’t care why you haven’t come in yet. Just get here and we will do our job which has to do with that word-prevention.

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“Even if you have tested positive for COVID in the past, you should still get vaccinated and you don’t need to wait 3 months. You can get the vaccine as soon as you are recovered from the infection. There is plenty of proof that the vaccine is safe and effective against hospitalizations and severe disease. It has been given to over 3.7 billion people worldwide so far. It is not 100% effective but should keep you from getting severely ill. Come by and see us Monday-Thursday, walk-ins welcome,” Mechler said.”The delta variant does not care if you want to wait it out, don’t have time to get to the Health Unit or are unsure if your kids should get the vaccine.”
If you have kids or grandkids, age 12 and up, they can get vaccinated and we have vaccine for them too. Don’t wait until school starts. The vaccine is fully effective 2 weeks after the second dose and time between 1st and 2nd dose is 3-4 weeks depending on which vaccine you get.
If you have been vaccinated, that is great news! A downside is that you can still get infected, unlikely but it can happen. Remember, the vaccine’s job is to prevent severe illness and in most cases it will.
Information changes and I understand it is frustrating to many, including me. As long as we have COVID around, its one and only job is to keep existing and spend 24/7 making its game plan.
By Patricia Mechler, RN
Medina County Health Unit