To the editor, 

The best Christmas present that I received this year was my first coronavirus vaccination. I’m lucky. Since my job in the Emergency Department puts me at risk, I’m in the first phase of vaccination.

I know some of you are not excited to get vaccinated. I was ready weeks ago when the Federal Drug Administration agreed to emergency use authorization of the first vaccine. Normally the FDA would wait for at least two years of data before allowing a vaccine to be marketed for use. We cannot wait that long. 

In the coming weeks, you will see on social media posts about folks who got the vaccine and developed some sort of medical condition. If I had a stroke two days after getting my vaccine, did the vaccine cause it? My point is most and possibly all these events are more likely from coincidence.

Just by chance, if you look at a group of 10 million people in the U.S. who are 55-64 years of age, 793 people will have heart attacks and 1,705 will of them die of something in one week.  This applies to many other medical occurrences. So, when you hear of someone who has had a stroke a few days after the vaccine, it is more likely from chance alone than from the vaccine.

A second thing I want to say is thank you. Lately I have seen more of you wearing masks than a few weeks ago. Thanks. There still are some that are reticent to wear them. 

The comment frequently made about wearing masks and social distancing is that they infringe on personal freedom.  Personal freedom does not apply to things that can harm others.

If everyone who comes down with COVID-19 had some distinct symptom before they were contagious, then wearing masks would be less likely to be beneficial if everyone with this “symptom” would quarantine. That would keep the public safe.

However, since COVID-19 symptoms are not distinct, and many folks never get symptoms or only mild symptoms, none of us know when we are able to spread it to others. Therefore, not following commonly recommended mandates puts everyone at risk.  

If you look at state numbers, most people dying from this pandemic are people in long-term care facilities, but many are not. Show that you care about these people, wear a mask when in public. Follow social distancing guidelines and avoid large crowds. If we do this, infection rates will be low, and schools and more businesses can open. Also, if we ALL did this, many would live to get the vaccine.   

Terry Johnson, MD


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