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Vaccinations and COVID-19

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Dr. Richard Iverson

Vaccinating healthy people to prevent disease is certainly not a new idea. In fact it was first proposed and tried over 500 years ago. The practice of vaccination is a well-accepted medical and public health practice. In my lifetime smallpox has been eliminated in the whole world. Polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, rubella, and mumps have been eliminated or drastically reduced for those who have been vaccinated for them. They have been required for school attendance for many years in order to prevent outbreaks among healthy school children. In my over 40 years of medical practice I saw no life threatening or permanent side effects in spite of seeing literally hundreds of children and adults who received recommended and/or required immunizations.

The past one and a half years have presented new challenges for all of us. Not since the 1918 influenza pandemic have we experienced anything remotely like this. Within days of the first COVID-19 virus infections, researchers knew the exact genetic composition of this virus. That was a radical development. That gave scientists at several drug companies a tremendous head start in order to develop a vaccine for this virus. In addition, because of recent scientific discoveries they were able to take a radical new approach to find an effective vaccine for COVID-19. We anticipated that such a vaccine might be 50 or 60% effective. We were delighted to find that the new approach yielded vaccines in the 90% effectiveness range. In addition, serious side effects were rare.

Initially we hoped that those vaccinated for COVID-19 would not be able to spread the virus if they subsequently became infected. However, recent information from ongoing studies have indicated that even those of us who have been fully vaccinated can become re-infected and spread the virus, even if we have no symptoms. Those fully vaccinated rarely become sick enough to be hospitalized or die, so vaccination is clearly the best way to go for everyone for their personal health as well as protection for their loved ones.

The number of COVID-19 infections have risen significantly in McDonough County, and our number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has again risen to the levels we were seeing last winter and spring. Well over 90% of those hospitalized recently have not received any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

It is not too late to be vaccinated, and even if you have had a COVID-19 infection it is recommended that you receive a follow-up vaccination. The protection from a COVID-19 infection, plus a follow-up COVID-19 shot, is much better than the protection from a COVID-19 infection alone. It is recommended that you consult with your Provider about the timing for a follow-up vaccination.

Dr. Richard Iverson


McDonough District Hospital Board of Directors