The Best Protection Against COVID-19 is Vaccination

The COVID-19 pandemic, as brought on by the novel coronavirus, changed our lives and affected us all in various ways. Meanwhile, doctors and scientists learned about this new virus and rapidly developed effective methods of keeping us as healthy as possible – all while trying to keep us living as normal a life as we could.


One of the most effective methods for balancing the health of our community with being able to regain some normalcy is the distribution, and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.


In fact, doctors right here in Wilkes and surrounding counties, including the trusted and caring professionals at Wills Memorial Hospital, saw firsthand the difference that COVID-19 vaccinations make for a wide range of people in different phases of life.


And that is why care providers such as Lester Johnston, M.D., an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist at Community Medical Associates, continue to proclaim the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination for patients – adults and children alike. Even now, with COVID-19 numbers remaining low, Dr. Johnston says that it is important to get the vaccine – or booster – to help guard against the more severe complications that COVID-19 can cause.


“Eighty-five to 90 percent of the patients hospitalized at Wills Memorial Hospital for respiratory distress and failure for coronavirus did not have the vaccination, while 10-15 (percent) were vaccinated,” Dr. Johnston said. “The vaccine most definitely helps decrease mortality and morbidity, meaning it decreases the chance of death; it decreases the intensity of the illness, and it decreases the length of the illness.”


Even in the light of virus mutations, Dr. Johnston believes that the vaccination remains a huge key in keeping people from experiencing severe outcomes.


“Especially with the Delta variant, the vaccines have proven to be very beneficial,” Dr. Johnston said.


The numbers reflect this statement, as the Centers for Disease Control and its exhaustive research shows. Vaccinations that are based on genetically engineered messenger RNA (mRNA), such as those from Moderna and Pfizer, help your body build an immune response and make antibodies. (After delivering instructions, the mRNA is immediately broken down. It never enters the nucleus of your cells, where your DNA is kept.) To this end, research shows that these vaccinations delivered an 84% effectiveness against the “Delta” variant and a 66% effectiveness against the more recent “Omicron” variant.


Research also showed that the COVID-19 vaccination offers greater protection from getting re-infected with COVID-19. So, even if you have had it in the past, getting vaccinated can help you from getting it – or severe reactions to the virus – again. In fact, a Mayo Clinic study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely as fully vaccinated people to be reinfected with COVID-19.


And while the recency of COVID-19 means that studies and numbers are continuously developing, Wills’ doctors and caregivers are certainly impressed by what they’ve seen during their care of COVID-19-infected patients and their patients’ response to vaccination. That includes children, who, while not typically as severely impacted by COVID-19 infection, can still display serious symptoms, and can also inadvertently deliver the virus to adults, including seniors and the immunocompromised.


“The pediatric population, it’s not as severely impacted by the coronavirus infection, but the challenge is that the coronavirus is evolving, it’s mutating, it’s changing. So, looking forward into the future, we can’t really predict what’s going to come in six months or 12 months. What we do know is that the vaccines help; we do know that,” Dr. Johnston said. “So, with that in mind, I do recommend the vaccines for the pediatric population.”


Dr. Johnston also advises vaccination for pregnant patients, noting no complications for unborn children.


“Generally, and with [pregnant mothers], I recommend they speak to their OB-GYN. But there’s been no contra-indications for the pediatric populations. I’m not worried about your unborn child, the fetus, being impacted negatively.,” Dr. Johnston said.


The most common response to the vaccine includes short-lived indications that range from a sore arm to mild, flu-like symptoms. And all these conditions pale in comparison to the complications associated with serious COVID-19 infection. That is why healthcare professionals like Dr. Johnston recommend vaccination – which is free to you – to patients across the health spectrum.


Residents may receive free COVID-19 vaccination at local health departments, as well as at pharmacies such as CVS and Fievet. Vaccination is not currently available through Wills Memorial facilities. Click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

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