Progress in the Battle Against Covid-19, But More Work Left

Only half the people in rural America have received a COVID-19 vaccination, and the disease isn’t going away. Health officials recommend getting an approved COVID-19 vaccination and a booster shot. Dr. Ilan Shapiro is the medical director of health, education, and wellness at AltaMed in Los Angeles, California. He says the need for a booster does not mean the COVID-19 vaccination isn’t effective.

“The vaccines are not perfect. We know that part but, most importantly, they’re designed to reduce harm to us. That’s what we use the vaccine for. It’s not to prevent the entirety of the infection. It’s not to just take it and live life like COVID-19 didn’t exist. Sadly, they haven’t worked like that. But the good news is that, when you get vaccinated, we reduce the chances of ending up in the hospital with prolonged COVID, and, most importantly, ICU and mortality rates go way lower when you’re vaccinated.”

Natural immunity for those who’ve already contracted COVID-19 is an important part of disease protection, but it’s not the whole package of protection against COVID.

“Natural immunity is awesome. It has been the thing that has made us survive for thousands of years. But sometimes, and specifically with this disease, it doesn’t give you full protection. For example, with chickenpox varicella, if you get infected, you’re practically very well taken care of for the rest of your life. Sadly, with COVID-19, with Coronaviruses, it hasn’t been the case. You can still get a second or third or fourth infection. That’s why it’s so important to get those boosters and get the vaccine, because that way, we are reminding our bodies on how to create those antibodies. If you already had the infection, you have natural immunity, and if you’re getting boosted, that’s the best combination we can have.”

We’ve made a lot of progress in battling COVID-19, but Shapiro says there is still work to do.

“We are advancing a lot with vaccinations, and we’re seeing the difference from 2021 to 2022, where a lot of the community is vaccinated. Yes, you can still get sick, but the possibilities of having horrible outcomes are getting smaller and smaller every day. Hopefully, between vaccines and taking care of each other, we will have a better outcome for 2022 and, hopefully, will for 2023.

Protection will become even more important during the fall when school’s reopen, and people begin heading indoors during the winter months.

“We are gathering in the middle part of the year, and everything’s going to move fast. Schools are going to open again, and the cold months are going to come here. If we want to have a better outcome than 2020 and 2021, we need to be protected because I can tell you for sure that I don’t want to miss a day of being without my family and being sick. And that’s why it’s so important right now for me and my family to get protected, and I hope everybody considers this.”

For more information, go to vaccines.gov.