I know there’s a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccine. You have probably read many different things about the vaccine from friends and family members, in the news, and social media. There is so much conflicting information that it makes it hard to know what the right thing to do is anymore. I’m weary of all the conflicting information too.
As your doctor, and a person who cares so much about you and your health, I wanted to reach out to you to talk about getting vaccinated. This new Delta variant is pretty scary. It spreads more easily and is especially affecting those that are not vaccinated. The vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations are now in people who were not fully vaccinated. I do not want you or someone you care about to be part of that statistic. I have two 40 year-olds in the ICU right now, and it’s breaking my heart.
I know there are a lot of questions about the safety of the vaccine. While I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty that the vaccine has no risks (I can’t say that about anything in medicine and tell you guys all the time “there’s no free lunch in medicine”), I can tell you that any potential risk of the vaccine is far less than the risk of the virus. Well over 100 million Americans have now received these vaccines. Some people experience side effects from the vaccine, but they are minor and typically last for a day or two. Alternatively, the symptoms of COVID-19 are more severe and can last for months (or even result in death). Up to 30 percent of people infected with COVID-19 develop what is being called “long-haulers syndrome,” with persistent symptoms (now some over 18 months) which can include fatigue, mental fogginess, loss of taste and smell, erectile dysfunction, and balance/coordination problems. To be honest, for my younger folks, these long-hauler symptoms are scarier for me. I have patients that have been completely unable to work with these symptoms for over a year now. And we don’t really know how to even treat these long-term symptoms. I’m so ready for all of us to be done with this darn virus.
With love, I urge you to please get vaccinated, if not for yourself, to protect your loved ones as well as the people who can’t be vaccinated even if they wanted to (kids, immunocompromised, etc.). I mean no disrespect at all by sending this. I know that this has become such a charged and even political issue, and I try really hard to avoid any of that, especially with my patients. But, the time has come for me to be honest about how overrun the hospitals are getting, how tired we are, how my patients are waiting hours or even days in the ER for a bed for non-COVID-related things, and I could go on.
If you want to talk more about this, I am wide-open to help you navigate what is best for you and your family. I do care so much about taking the best care of you all. I take so seriously the trust so many of you have placed in me to take care of you, deliver your babies, take care of your kids, get you thru your golden years, and hold your hand at the end. It is truly an honor to serve you all.
Stacy Fletcher is a family physician.
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