KNOW THE VAX FACTS: We are at a crossroads

WE HAVE DEEP DIVISIONS in this country and many of us find ourselves on opposite sides of various issues. Differences of opinion are allowed, and debate is a hallmark of a healthy democracy.

But in times of crisis, people often put aside their differences to help their neighbors. This has been discussed in behavioral sciences for years. We see this in the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, forest fires, as people come together to support each other, helping to rebuild what has been lost.

And we even pray.  Science helps us understand the beauty of creation, and how we are entrusted to be good stewards of this Earth. We are at a crossroads.

We are in the middle of a calamity that requires this kind of community care. This Covid-19 pandemic is like the bubonic plague. Plague was the cause of the Black Death that swept through Asia, Europe, and Africa in the 14th century and killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. To date So Far in the United States over 637,0000 people have died from Covid or its complications.

In March of 2020, we knew very little about the Covid virus and its behavior. The hope was to develop a safe vaccine to protect us all. Vaccines have a long history of protecting people from deadly illnesses. Smallpox has been eradicated, and polio, which once was a scourge that killed thousands of American children each year and paralyzed more, has been eliminated from the United States. Jonas Salk developed an inactive polio virus vaccine, given by injection, and Albert Sabin developed an attenuated oral vaccine.

There are no infectious strains of virus in the current effective Covid-19 vaccines, all of which block the Covid virus from replicating.

Moderna, Johnson & Johnson vaccines received “emergency “approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and recently the Pfizer vaccine has been granted full FDA approval.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use innovative mRNA technology, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses the more traditional virus-based technology. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a disabled adenovirus to deliver the instructions to interfere with Covid-19 replication. None of the available vaccines and their instructions to boost your immune system will change your DNA nor will they give you a viral infection.

All three of these vaccines are safe and effective, with 350 million plus doses given in the US and over a billion doses given worldwide!

The best way for us to get through this Covid Pandemic is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated, while we continue washing our hands, socially distancing, and wearing masks as public health and medical professionals, including people at the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise. Unvaccinated people serve as incubators for the Covid virus allowing it to mutate into the variants like the Delta variant or other contagious and deadly strains. Getting the Covid vaccine is an act of love as described by Pope Francis. So, if you are on the fence then jump onto the side of loving your neighbor! GET VACCINATED.

There are no infectious strains of virus in the current effective Covid-19 vaccines.

We need to work together, the way people do during times of crisis and natural disaster. As a family physician in Columbia County since 1981, I have dedicated my life to keeping people healthy and safe. Getting the Covid vaccine is an act of love.

So, we as a community and nation need to stay strong.  We are all in this together.

May God bless America; may it remain safe and strong.

Joseph P. Lalka, MD, Retired, Chatham, Volunteer Hospital Chaplain

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