Health officer provides COVID information


August 26, 2021

As predicted, COVID has spiked again both here in Hot Springs County and in the rest of the country. Those falling ill, being hospitalized, and dying are mostly those who are not vaccinated. Those who are vaccinated may still get COVID again, but the course is generally milder.

Masking, social distancing, and other measures were all we had until vaccines were available. We now have three effective COVID vaccines in this country. No vaccine of any sort is 100% safe and effective, but these COVID vaccines are remarkably safe and effective. The research behind these vaccines is not new and their rapid development comes more from cutting government red tape than from cutting corners regarding safety. The Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval for persons 16 and older. Full FDA approval of the other vaccines and expansion to younger age groups will be coming in the very near future.

Several things to take home when considering taking a COVID vaccine:

The vaccine science is not new and the vaccines were not rushed to development in an unsafe manner.

Vaccines give a better immune response and are more protective against more variants than getting and recovering from any one of the variants of COVID.

A positive blood test for COVID antibodies does not necessarily indicate that you have immunity.

If you have had COVID, a follow up vaccine will provide substantially more protection from future COVID infections than having COVID alone provides.

Side effects from vaccines can occur, but are generally mild and generally indicate a healthy immune response is happening in your body.

Symptoms and side effects from getting COVID may be mild, but COVID infections can lead to serious illness, death, and long term (maybe forever) symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and various organ dysfunctions.

Additional shots are already available for the most vulnerable and boosters will probably be necessary for most of us.

COVID is not going to go away and until we are able to achieve some level of herd immunity new and dangerous variants will continue to emerge.

Vaccines are free and readily available and I strongly recommend that all consider taking one of the vaccines to help each of us to stay healthy and to stop this pandemic. Please discuss this with your primary provider if you still have questions or concerns.

My family and I are fully vaccinated, two with Moderna, one with Pfizer, and one with Johnson & Johnson and we intend to take the booster when available.

We must take steps as a whole society to disrupt the spread of this virus or COVID will continue to evolve and evade our defenses.

Vernon W. Miller MD FACS

Hot Springs County Health Officer


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