By Dr. Christina Canfield, Huron County
I value my “family’’ of patients and neighbors in Huron County, where I have been practicing for more than 26 years. I love working in a small town full of caring people, and it’s been brutal to see some of those people sickened by or, worse, dead from COVID-19.
I would have done anything to save our community from the heartache and health issues we have faced for more than 15 months as a result of this pandemic. I want this health crisis to be over just as much as the rest of you do. I want to return to normal. That’s why I have gotten a COVID vaccine. And I have encouraged my family, friends and co-workers to do the same.
That’s why I am taking the time to truly listen to my patients — and anyone who asks me — who want to talk about the vaccines, who have some hesitancy or outright fear of getting one. It’s my job to listen, to respect others’ opinions, to not be judgmental. And after I listen, I hope people will hear me out while I talk about the facts that I know about these vaccines.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool in stopping the mass spread of the coronavirus. Vaccines help boost immune systems by introducing your body to previews of what the real virus looks like, without causing disease. This preview gives your immune system time to design powerful antibodies to fight the real virus if you are exposed or infected. If you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and then have an exposure to the coronavirus, your body is ready to fight the virus, stopping the disease.
There is no truth whatsoever to some of the rumors circulating that the mRNA technology used to help develop vaccines changes your DNA or RNA. The vaccines have been proven safe through large scale clinical trials, and enrollees were diverse in age, gender and race. And the technology has been used safety in the oncology field since 1989 for significant cancer treatment advances.
It’s understandable to be cautious when something new comes along. People naturally want to do what is best for themselves and their family. So I encourage asking questions! There are answers for some common concerns including these: the vaccine does not contain any sort of microchip or tracking device; and there is no evidence that COVID vaccines cause infertility. The clear benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the known risks.
I know some of you wonder why you can’t wait, right? You may be thinking we can reach herd immunity — when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely — without your participation. Achieving herd immunity will depend on Ohio’s, and the country’s, willingness to get the vaccine. The vaccine allows us to get closer to controlling and even the ending this pandemic, but millions more need to be immunized. The faster we participate, the faster we can get back to normal.
Herd immunity makes it possible to protect the population from a disease, including those who can’t be vaccinated, such as newborns or those who have compromised immune systems. Using the concept of herd immunity, vaccines have successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella and many others.
Opposition to vaccines can pose a real challenge to herd immunity. Herd immunity can also be reached when a sufficient number of people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. But it isn’t yet clear if infection with the COVID-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection. So the best way to stop this disease — and help prevent the development of more, and more deadly variants — is vaccination.
Please if you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, talk with your family doctor or certified nurse practitioner, pharmacist or the Huron County Health Department. We all know many of you have questions, and we are willing to listen and answer all of them.
Vaccines are free, and it’s easy now to sign up for one. You can go to the Ohio Department of Health site at https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov and a list of providers can be found at the Huron County Health Department site here https://www.huroncohealth.com/covid19vaccine.
Believe me, I join you in being tired of this disease. I’m a doctor, and I abide by a code of ethics that includes making responsibility to patients paramount. When I encourage you to get the vaccine, I do so committing to you that getting the vaccine is the right thing for you.
I want my family of patients and neighbors to get back to their lives without worries about how this illness will continue to impact them. Please take care of each other by taking care of yourself. And one way to do that is to get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.