Lesson Learned (April 29)

Time now to assess our health and well-being following a terrible year of suffering from the Coronavirus Pandemic. First to pause and ponder the death of my fellow healthcare professionals who perished this year serving on the front lines: more than 3,600 U.S. healthcare professionals died in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had no treatment and too few supplies, but these brave souls showed up for work and gave their all.

I salute in particular the 25% who are Filipino American nurses and doctors. Araceli and I know firsthand the sacrifice they made coming to the USA. Then they took the high risk positions. And they have paid the ultimate full measure of devotion.

At our last Board of Education meeting, our members learned 60% of our staff have accepted the vaccine, protecting their lives from like fate of suffering morbidity and mortality after becoming infected by the coronavirus.

In the honor of those 3,600 from the American healthcare workforce who perished serving the equivalency of war—can we increase the Upshur County Schools staff and families who will accept vaccine protection? Vaccine hesitancy, while understandable, is a proposition that can be pondered further.

President Biden has used his White House pulpit pushing for more seniors to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

News reports quote: “The vaccination rate for seniors over 75 years old, a top-priority group, is reaching a plateau even as supplies have expanded.” According to the CDC, “About 76% of Americans aged 65 and older have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccines since authorization in December,” however, “the rate of new vaccinations among the group most vulnerable to adverse virus outcomes has dramatically slowed.”

Finally, my physician training, wearing a white coat for 50 years, and my clinical acumen alert me to more trouble coming soon. Our nation’s new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke from her heart recently, saying she fears “impending doom” even with three excellent vaccines.

One of our nation’s chief doctors sees the complications medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry writes about. She sees the plateau in vaccine rates like the ones I heard at our BOE meeting. Maybe the heightened suspicions in those who are declining vaccinations is well thought out. Maybe the distrust of even physicians, who are generally highly trusted, has grown too much in this era of rancor. Or maybe some citizens like our young people of Gen Z aren’t receiving information about COVID-19 vaccines or are not tuning in to the media messages. Polls indicate that many young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are not planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or are waiting to find out more information.

Well, here is my community column approach that emphasizes lessons learned. We have endured so much together. We remain in this together. The vaccines help prevent the most serious complications of COVID-19 including death. Let us finish off this pandemic. Then let us get back to healthy pursuits of quality living in our wild and wonderful mountains of West Virginia.


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