Healthcare providers encourage vaccination

Dear editor,

We, the undersigned, are physicians at Lawrence Healthcare in Walnut Ridge. We have been dealing with the pandemic of Covid-19 viral illness for over a year.

As healthcare providers, it has meant wearing a mask and other PPE at work every day for over a year. There is the stress of worrying about getting ill and spreading the virus to friends and family. For families of ill patients and nursing home residents, it has meant disappointment at not being able to visit family members during an often serious illness.

Covid-19 is a serious illness. While it is true that the majority experience a mild illness and recover, some patients die from the illness. This is especially true for those who are elderly and those with underlying heart, lung and other debilitating conditions. Of those who recover, around 30 percent have persistent symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell, which can last for months.

Vaccines are now available that can prevent infection in around 90 percent of people. What is even more promising is that vaccinated people who do get infected with the virus have less severe illness, and a lower risk of hospitalization and death.

There are minor side effects with the vaccination, like a sore arm or fatigue, but these usually pass quickly. It is not possible to get Covid-19 infection from the vaccine. Serious side effects and death can occur, but these are, fortunately, very rare. We do believe the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk.

If the majority of the population chooses to get vaccinated, it may result in something called population immunity; that is where the virus cannot find enough susceptible hosts and, therefore, stops spreading.

Even though the number of ill people has decreased in the state, the threat remains. Countries like India and Brazil are seeing large spikes in numbers of patients. The virus can mutate into new forms that are easier to spread.

We encourage all eligible persons to get immunized so that we no longer have to worry about serious Covid-19 illness, full hospital and being isolated from ill family members in the future.

Paul Vellozo, MD

Samantha Hatfield, MD

Kevin Diamond, MD

Mary Meyer, APRN

Sara Woodson, APRN

Sandra Howard, FNP-BC

Lawrence Healthcare Providers

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