More Than 97% Effective, 100% Less Regret

People are dying again. Deaths from COVID-19 are rising in the U.S. for the first time in months. This follows an upward trend in COVID cases that began in early July. Hospitalizations started rising soon after that. And all of this is happening most in places where vaccination rates are low and among people who haven’t received the vaccine. In fact, among those who land in the hospital, 97 percent have not had the vaccine and 99 percent of deaths are in people who are unvaccinated. The regret is 100 percent. Lauren Schiller, a registered nurse caring for these patients in Jacksonville, Florida, describes it:

“If I asked any single patient that’s up in a bed right now, they will tell me that they wish they had gotten the vaccine. 100 percent. They have told me personally that they wish they had gotten it, that they should have gotten it. And they did not.”

Yes, Vaccines Work for People at Risk

Donna Ryan presented at the YWM2021 virtual conference on Sunday. She explained that vaccines are the most effective tool we have for preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19. What’s more, they are fully effective for people living at higher risk because of obesity.

Will Deaths Bring More Vaccination?

Sadly, it may be that rising deaths will be the thing to convince the laggards to get their vaccines. Writing in the Atlantic, Daniel Engbert notes that when cases began dropping in the U.S., urgency to get the vaccine began dropping, too.

So he suggests that we might see an uptick in vaccination with rising deaths:

“But as the Delta variant rips through Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and the rest of the United States, we may see the vaccination numbers start to rise in tandem.”

Measles outbreaks in 2019 prompted a tripling of vaccination rates in the Pacific Northwest where those outbreaks occurred. A similar pattern emerges with pertussis outbreaks.

Propagandists Turn Back

Even the propagandists at certain political outlets seem to be walking back from noxious rhetoric about vaccines. This week, Sean Hannity was urging people to get serious and get the vaccine:

“Just like we’ve been saying, please take COVID seriously. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor. It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.”

Maybe rising rates of death in areas with low vaccination rates will be a motivator that pontificating experts cannot be. Regret is painful. But if that pain brings action that saves lives, then at least something good can come from it.

Click here for more on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in people with obesity. Click here and here for more from the Atlantic on vaccination trends and rhetoric. Finally, for research on disease outbreaks and subsequent vaccination rates, click here.

Regret, photograph © Michel Schmid / flickr

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July 21, 2021