As health care providers, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our patients and our community.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our members have been on the front lines, treating those who have become infected under some of the most challenging conditions imaginable. Others have contributed in other ways, donating protective equipment and adopting stringent safety protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus in our offices.
Over the past several months, we have gained a new weapon in the fight against coronavirus: vaccines.
The effectiveness of this new weapon depends on the willingness of patients to seek them out and sign up for vaccination. On behalf of the state’s leading health care provider organizations, we are joining forces to urge our patients to do just that: Don’t hesitate, get vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 16 living in Washington is eligible to receive a vaccine, and they should take advantage of that opportunity as vaccine availability continues to grow.
Our entire community has worked too hard and suffered the effects of COVID-19 too long for you to pass up this opportunity to protect yourself and those around you.
We understand that in some cases, patients may have legitimate medical reasons that prevent them from being vaccinated. And we respect that others may have strongly held religious beliefs with restrictions against vaccination or for philosophical reasons. Those limitations aside, our sincere belief based on years of medical experience is that vaccination is the most important thing you can do right now to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and safely return a sense of normality to our daily lives.
It’s completely understandable if you’re hesitant to get the vaccine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and there have been a few high-profile issues, such as the recent temporary suspension of Johnson & Johnson vaccine usage.
As health care professionals, we are taught to rely on facts and data in plotting the course of treatment for our patients. Applying that same rigor to the issue of vaccines, we believe that the facts are clear and that any hesitation about the safety or efficacy of the vaccines now on the market is unwarranted.
The fact that these vaccines were developed in record time doesn’t mean any shortcuts were taken. Instead, it was the result of a herculean research effort built on nearly two decades of studying coronaviruses. Studies were peer-reviewed, and final trials involved tens of thousands of volunteer patients. The result has been vaccines shown to be nearly twice as effective as the flu shots many of us get annually.
Vaccines essentially help your body defend itself by prompting the creation of antibodies to fight a specific disease. Most of the reactions that patients have after receiving a shot — issues such as muscle soreness, headache or low-grade fever — are actually indications that the vaccine is working and that antibody creation is underway.
We aren’t asking you to ignore the reports of more serious side effects, but we do ask that you put them in perspective. In the case of the J&J vaccine, there have been six reported cases of patients developing blood clot issues after being vaccinated — out of approximately 6.8 million doses administered.
Compare those figures to COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death rates, and the only conclusion you can reach is that the virus poses a much greater risk of serious, long-term, and potentially life-threatening medical problems for you and those you love.
Perhaps the best endorsement of vaccination we can provide is that all of us have received our shots. Our decisions to do so reflect our understanding of the science behind the vaccines, as well as our commitment to protecting ourselves, our families and the people we serve.
You can find a list of local vaccination sites at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/. If you have additional questions, please consult your physician, your dentist or your eye doctor. We’re here to help.
The more people are vaccinated, even those who have already had COVID-19, the safer our community will become and the sooner we all can return to the activities we normally enjoy.