County vaccine effort still needs shot in arm
March 13, 2020 feels like a lifetime ago.
Since then Blair County lost more than 330 citizens to COVID.
Over 10 percent of our residents tested positive. Many more were probably never tested.
From our youngest students to our oldest residents, from our cities and towns to our farms, there is not a single age group, demographic, or industry that has not been affected.
The long-term effects of this pandemic aren’t known, but now that we have multiple effective vaccines available, we are in control of how soon it ends.
Getting vaccinated is a personal choice.
When you make that choice it is important to consider both factual information and your individual situation. If you have questions about whether the vaccine is safe for you, you should talk to your doctor.
The vaccines currently available are based on research that began decades ago.
For the vast majority of people, they are safe. Most people have mild side effects from their vaccine which can be easily managed.
As more people get the vaccine, data grows about its benefits. The benefits of being fully vaccinated far outweigh the risks of an adverse reaction.
Getting the COVID19 vaccine significantly decreases the likelihood that you will catch COVID-19.
If you do catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated, you are less likely to experience serious symptoms than if you are unvaccinated.
Two weeks after their final dose, people who are vaccinated can stop wearing masks under the new guidance just announced on May 13.
Vaccinated people are exempt from having to self-quarantine after exposure to someone who tests positive as long as they remain asymptomatic.
We all have personal reasons for wanting life to get back to normal: seeing loved ones in person for the first time in over a year; enjoying a beautiful spring evening at an Altoona Curve game without worry; traveling to other states without having to self quarantine.
Being vaccinated means getting back to the everyday events we used to take for granted: church services, dinners with extended family, birthday parties, recitals, and graduations.
The scariest thing about COVID-19 is that some people have no symptoms while others suffer serious health issues or lose their lives.
Although we would reach herd immunity against the current variants eventually without vaccinating, this would require many more people to contract the disease without knowing how it will affect them or how many more lives will be lost and increases the risk that more contagious and deadly variants will evolve.
The vaccines are the safest and fastest way we can achieve herd immunity.
Gov. Wolf’s announcement that the mask order will be lifted for everyone once 70% of Pennsylvanians over the age of 18 are vaccinated is a challenge to us.
At the time of this writing, only 42.6% of Blair County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine. Vaccines are readily available now to everyone over the age of 18.
The Pfizer vaccine is also approved for those older than 12. There are many locations in Blair County where the vaccine is available. You can locate the one closest to you by going to www.vaccines.gov.
We hope that Blair County residents will rise to the challenge and help our community overcome this pandemic sooner by getting vaccinated.
Get your shot. Let’s end this thing.
Burke and Erb are Blair County