Thank you, Donald Trump!
The public-private partnership Operation Warp Speed may be the greatest success of Trump's presidency. Scientists used mRNA research from the 2003 SARS1 outbreak and efficiently produced vaccines that have proved to be remarkably effective and wonderfully safe. Well done! Some fans are calling it the "Trump Vaccine."
I took the Pfizer shots, which prevent covid infection in 96% of recipients for the first two months after the second dose. Protection declines gradually after that, so I expect a booster option some time in the future. Against severe disease and hospitalization, the vaccine's efficacy has held steady at about 97%. The shots work.
These vaccines have faced the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. In April, when six women among the 6.8 million receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed blood clots, the FDA paused the J&J vaccine for two weeks until they found a safe path through the threat.
The vaccines are remarkably safe, especially when compared with the potential severity of the covid virus that has killed more than 4.2 million worldwide and over 613,000 in the U.S.
I believe getting vaccinated is a religious obligation for people of faith. St. Paul wrote that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and should be cared for. He said, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." When a contagious disease is preventable, it is an act of love to prevent its spread. From the beginning of the covid outbreak, many have reminded us that "We are all in this together."
I have read reports that evangelical Christians have been slow to be vaccinated, but evangelical leaders seem united in support of the covid vaccines. Albert Mohler, prominent conservative evangelical and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote a long article supporting the covid vaccines, saying, "Christians have tended to see vaccines as one of the gifts of modern medicine and to take advantage of them." Billy Graham's successor, Franklin Graham, said, "I thank God for the doctors and researchers that have put this time and effort and money to develop these vaccines, and I hope the American people will use them."
Right now, many of our hospitals are full. They are diverting patients and delaying surgeries. Unvaccinated patients account for 97% of the covid hospitalizations and 99.5% of Covid deaths.
Delta is much more contagious than the earlier covid versions. The new Delta variant is more transmissible than the common cold or flu, as transmissible as chicken pox. It appears that vaccinated people who catch the Delta virus may be as contagious as unvaccinated people. That's a big change.
Delta accumulates in the air like cigarette smoke and can cause infection even from a fleeting contact. Some knowledgeable people are predicting Delta will eventually infect virtually every unvaccinated person in low-vaccinated regions like Arkansas. Delta is a game changer.
Limit your exposure. Avoid indoor public areas. Wear a mask unless you are in your home with vaccinated family members whom you know to be careful or unless you are a good distance from gatherings of people when you're elsewhere.
Children under 12 cannot be vaccinated yet, and they are at risk. Children's Hospital in Little Rock is full for the first time in 25 years.
As we anticipate the beginning of the fall school term, parents are worried. My friend Dr. Gary Wheeler, former president of the Arkansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, offers good advice to parents anticipating school openings. Look for three things in your children's schools. 1. Masking -- a vast majority of children and adults should be wearing masks. 2. Leaders -- school leaders should embrace masking enthusiastically. 3. No bullying -- zero tolerance for bullying of mask wearers.
It seems like common sense for clinics and health care providers to mandate vaccination. It's hard to think of any business or institution that would not be helped by protecting their team of employees and requiring vaccinations. You can include exceptions for religious reasons or the very rare pre-existing health condition. From what I read, there is almost no pre-existing health condition more threatening than covid-19.
I saw a cartoon. A daughter asks, "Mom, what is that scar on your arm?"
"That's from a smallpox vaccination," the mother replies.
"Why don't I have one?" the girl wonders.
"Because we all got one," says the mom.