Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have had the privilege of caring for many people infected with COVID-19. I have seen suffering and tragedy, loss and despair, but have also seen hope and recovery. We now have a vaccine to prevent this.
I was in the Moderna clinical trial and was vaccinated in September 2020. Even though we did not know much about the vaccine, I felt honored to be part of the study and to protect myself, my family and my community. Even at that time, I felt that the risk of vaccination was less than the risk of having complications from COVID-19.
In the year after receiving the vaccine, part of my practice was outpatient pulmonary. I evaluated patients who had long-COVID symptoms including shortness of breath, poor sleep, chest pain, brain fog, weakness or oxygen-dependence related to their prior infection. About 35% of people who have COVID-19 will have long-term symptoms, including people who were treated at home. Symptoms may be permanent or last months, potentially leading to inability to work, exercise or return to their prior health before infection.
When the vaccine became available, I was enthusiastic knowing there was hope in ending much of this suffering. Vaccination is the most effective tool we have to prevent long-COVID symptoms, hospitalizations and death. Despite this, people still refuse to get vaccinated. Our ICU staff continues to be strained due to resources and staffing, and healthcare providers throughout the country cannot provide the same care as we did prior to the pandemic. If more people were vaccinated, we would not be in this situation.
There are risks associated with the vaccine, but nothing compared to the risk of COVID-19 infection. During the last couple weeks, I have seen many patients die from COVID-19 in our intensive care units. I find the hardest losses for me are the young parents who die leaving their young children behind. Even more tragic is when both mom and dad die leaving their kids parentless. As a mother of a 3- and 5-year-old, I can’t even imagine the devastation this would have on my children. The tragedies would have been prevented if only my patients would have been vaccinated.
Over 90% of ICU admissions for COVID occur in the non vaccinated. Our ICU nurses, staff and physicians are doing the best we can to keep our patients alive, but we are only human. As far as the vaccine, it is important to consider risk versus benefit.
Most common risks of vaccine:
• Pain at injection site, enlarged lymph nodes, fevers or feeling unwell for a couple days.
Rare risks of vaccine:
• Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (3 cases/million vaccinated)
• Guillain-Barre (7.8 cases/million vaccinated)
• Myocarditis – rare and typically mild in vaccinated patients. Higher rate and severity in nonvaccinated patients.
Risks of COVID19 with the Delta variant
• Majority asymptomatic or mild infection with fevers, fatigue, sore throat, headaches.
• Unlikely to end up in the hospital, ICU, or die.
• Vaccinated are 59% less at risk for getting infection.
• Clear virus around six days. Severe infection typically occurs around nine to 11 days.
• Two times higher risk of visiting the ER or admission to the hospital than vaccinated.
• Eleven times more likely to die from Delta variant than unvaccinated.
• About 33% will develop long-term symptoms after resolution of their infection.
Please make an educated decision for your health, your family and the community. Life is full of uncertainty and risk. When you are prescribed antibiotics there are many risks, but the benefit outweighs the risk. The risk being infected with COVID-19 greatly outweighs the risk of the vaccine and that is why I recommend vaccination.
From a doctor who does not want you to be my patient, please get vaccinated.