Biscuit has been gone over six months, but it turns out he’s been watching from afar the progression of this pandemic. While he’s been heartened by the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, he is disappointed by the discord around their use. His usually astute assessment of the current situation leads him to provide this advice on why people should get the COVID vaccine now if they haven’t already done it.
1) No better vaccine in the future. What’s become clear to Biscuit is that hundreds of millions of doses of the mRNA vaccines are remarkably effective and safe in protecting against COVID-19. If you have been holding out for something better to appear on the horizon, the news is not good. The highly touted Novavax vaccine is more complex than the RNA vaccines and was only 90% effective in clinical trials. Another highly anticipated vaccine from Curevac in Europe was less than 50% effective against preventing disease! No new vaccine will surpass the performance and safety of what we have, so there is no reason to wait to get vaccinated at this point.
2) Variant viruses. Biscuit knows there will be new variant viruses on the horizon, if only from countries not able to vaccinate their populations. Some of the new variants identified do appear to be more contagious and more likely to cause disease. The most recent variant, now called delta, is particularly easy to spread and may cause more severe disease in children. The wonderful news is that the RNA vaccines appear effective in preventing infection from all known variants. The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants is to get vaccinated.
3) Protecting our children and ill relatives. This is a tender point for Biscuit as he was never able to have a family of his own. The one population that can’t get the vaccine right now is children under the age of 12. While approval may come for these children before the end of the year, they are at risk for infection particularly with some of the variant viruses that seem more effective in infecting children. The way to protect your children is to immunize yourself so you’re less likely to bring the virus home and less likely to spread it to your household. The same is true for family members that have significant illnesses or are on immunosuppressive drugs that prevent them from being effectively vaccinated. If you care about protecting your children and family members get vaccinated.
4) Want to go on vacation this year? Biscuit always looked forward to our vacations because he got to go to the kennel where he could hang out with the other dogs. If you want to go on vacation this year at a theme park, a resort, or on that cruise that you’ve been delaying, you will need to show that you’re vaccinated. Even a day trip to a sports event or concert may require vaccination documentation. So given the time it will take to get fully vaccinated, you need to get the vaccine now to be ready to vacation in July and August.
5) Protecting yourself! Biscuit was always good at protecting himself, be it from other dogs or the threats of infection. Unfortunately, he was derailed by a cancer that couldn’t be treated. Therefore, he finds it incredibly confusing that people who have an option to protect themselves from the potentially deadly illness would opt not to. If you are over 40, have any pre-existing medical condition, and have not gotten the vaccine, you are playing Russian roulette with COVID-19. Even if you’re younger and are likely to survive an infection, you may have prolonged problems with your sense of smell and taste or post COVID syndrome that can be debilitating. Given the risks from these problems, the vaccines with their proven safety profile, are far better options than SARS-CoV-2 infection!
6) Allowing Tony to retire from public life! People keep complaining about Dr. Fauci and his pronouncements about wearing masks and taking precautions. The quickest way to end this dialogue is by getting vaccinated. Once the pandemic is totally over and everyone is immunized, he can go back to NIH, and other public health authorities will return to warning us about drinking, over-eating, smoking, and other traditional problems we totally ignore.