Let’s just get this over with!
Early on in this COVID-19 pandemic Montgomery County and the little counties in Arkansas surrounding us had very few diagnosed COVID-19 cases. And just to be on the safe side, we avoided being tested – as if testing was the problem. Certainly we didn’t talk about it.
We were very proud of ourselves. We thought we were safe out here in rural Arkansas. We were wrong.
Now as Arkansas cases continue to go higher and higher (along with the rest of the country) the quiet disappears. Friends and family in our own county are infected, some getting very sick, and we start to hear about it on Facebook and in conversation.
Heard of “long haulers?” These are folks who get infected, recover in terms of COVID-19 infection but are left with long term damage. Months after recovery from infection with COVID-19 some people are still battling crushing fatigue, lung damage and other symptoms. Turns out this is true of other viruses in history.
For clarity, that means there is more potential danger to COVID-19 than just the discomfort or inconvenience of a two week recovery in the beginning or death at the end. Read more about “long haulers” here.
In Montgomery County, AR we don’t have our own hospital so we don’t know how many of our own are hospitalized. We only know for sure when people die because it is reported by the state. Even then it is just a number, a statistic and not a name.
Death is personal!
Some seem very taken with statistics. “Gee, ten deaths doesn’t seem like very many, a very small percentage of cases. I see no reason why I should be inconvenienced by a mask or keeping my distance.” No, it doesn’t seem like very many die UNTIL one of those deaths happens to be someone we know. Then it’s personal.
Here is an example of personal, an obituary posted on the Price and Son’s Funeral Home website in Kansas.
“Dr. Marvin James Farr, 81, of Scott City, Kan., passed away Dec. 1, 2020, in isolation at Park Lane Nursing Home. He was preceded in death by more than 260,000 Americans infected with covid-19. He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family.
Marvin was born May 23, 1939 to Jim and Dorothy Farr of Modoc, Kan. He was born into an America recovering from the Great Depression and about to face World War 2, times of loss and sacrifice difficult for most of us to imagine. Americans would be asked to ration essential supplies and send their children around the world to fight and die in wars of unfathomable destruction. He died in a world where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another.”
In the short run it is obvious that avoiding infection is the key. That means everybody wearing a mask, maintaining public distance, and washing hands. In the long term, however, vaccination is the answer.
We should all be looking forward to a vaccine. I have followed in depth the development, trials, and evaluation process followed by pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, and the CDC. The two vaccines likely to be approved within the next week are not live virus, but are made from a protein in the crown of the coronavirus. The crown is the part of a virus that attaches to and enters your cells.
Everything that is alive on this earth (including you, a tree, and a virus) is made of protein. But the proteins are different. Your immune system knows the difference, recognizing that this particular protein found on the coronavirus crown is not–self . That means your system says “That protein does not belong here.”
Review here how the immune system works.
In the case of these vaccines the immune system recognizes the not-self protein, and creates antibodies to ward off and eliminate the protein. Those antibodies hang around, recognize that protein in the viruses when you are exposed, and prevent you being infected.
There are folks who find a new vaccine scary. Understandable given all the scary stuff showing up on media these days. However, since our ability to get back to “normal” in this country and the world is dependent on vaccines, I’d like to help you have confidence.
Here is a short video from Dr. Michelle Au (found on twitter) making an exceptional explanation of the two vaccines , clarifying how the vaccine cannot cause a COVID-19 infection and prevents infection. .
Science doesn’t yet know how long that immunity will last. But they do know, so far, that the immunity seems to last at least 6 months. Only time will tell how much longer. The scientists who have done all this work will continue to follow up and see what happens with time. That is their job.
The trials to verify that these vaccines are safe and actually work have only just begun for children. The experts remind us that children are not just small adults and particular attention is required to get it right. The vaccines will not yet be available for children or pregnant women.
In America it appears that health care workers (including those in nursing homes) and residents of nursing homes will be first to get the vaccine. This makes perfect sense, at least to me. Following that will likely be the older of us and those with underlying health conditions (which, due largely to our diet, appears to be about half of America.)
Priorities in each state could vary which is likely to complicate things.
Mid year 2021 essentially all who are willing and approved to be vaccinated will be. FYI, if we want this to be really protective we need the large majority to be vaccinated.
Living involves risk but how we humans respond to risk differs. For example, no matter how safely you personally drive you are still susceptible to the driving of others. Still you want to get around and so you will drive, risk or not. Or maybe you won’t.
Some of us are afraid we will be infected or cause infection, others not. This is obvious when you see people without masks in public places. Some are afraid to be vaccinated or vaccinate their children despite the potential risk associated with the virus.
Some risks are different. Those of us with autoimmune diseases or with organ transplants requiring immune suppression will likely not be able to be vaccinated. Protection for these folks is in the vaccination of others.
Do your part. Let’s protect each other as we wait patiently for the vaccines. And then get vaccinated.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. Her website is http://www.allaboutthefood.org/ She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 870-490-1836. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/patsmithbooks.