No doubt Granite State residents are ready to put the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror.  This past year has been one of the most challenging of our lives, and we all want to return to a sense of normalcy and be able to get out and do the things we want to do—hug loved ones we haven’t seen in person for over a year; visit our family, friends and others; go shopping, out to eat at a restaurant or see a movie with friends; travel; and so much more. With the successful advent of COVID-19 vaccines, we’re getting closer by the day.  But we’re not there yet and we need to continue to follow all of the common-sense public health and safety protocols that we know are successful in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19:  wear a mask, maintain physical distance, wash our hands, stay home if we’re not feeling well, get a COVID-19 test if we’re experiencing any symptoms, and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now that all adults in New Hampshire 16 and older are eligible to register for and receive the vaccine, it’s incumbent upon all of us to make that very personal decision of whether we will get vaccinated.  While the vaccines approved for use in the United States were certainly developed in record time, federal authorities did not take short cuts in their review and approval processes and have been proven safe and effective.  The current pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is further proof that federal and state officials are taking all precautions to ensure the health and safety of everyone receiving this vaccine.  The public-private partnership that state officials have been leading continues to put shots in arms at a record pace. 

 

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Despite the large number of vaccinations being completed, we have seen a troubling increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations over the past few weeks. But there is hope that these trends can be changed. The chart above shows a dramatic correlation between those who have been vaccinated versus those who are becoming infected with COVID-19.  Between April 1 and April 7, the largest rate of new infections per 100,000 people occurred in age cohorts who either don’t yet qualify for the vaccine (those under 16) or those who have only recently become eligible.  Those who make up the smallest rate of new COVID-19 infections are those who have been eligible to receive the vaccine the longest, those over the age of 50. 

The vaccine is working to reduce COVID-19 infections and, most importantly, protecting our most vulnerable residents from getting severely ill, requiring hospitalization, and dying.  As in other public health crises to date, such as polio and smallpox, a safe and effective vaccine is what led us out of those difficult periods of time, and the COVID-19 pandemic will be no different.  Please, talk with your health care provider, review the data and then, absent any medical contraindications, choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  You can find out more information here and register to sign up for the vaccine in New Hampshire here.

Steve Ahnen is the president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association