Letter from the Chief Medical Officer

cmoJuly 19, 2021

Dear Madison County,

I hope this letter finds everyone healthy and well. I wanted to take a minute to update everyone on the current COVID-19 situation.  The numbers are up, so we must ask the question, why?  The dynamics of the problem we all find ourselves in goes like this:

Before there was a vaccine, most people were cautious and scared, as they should have been, which is why most people were wearing masks and staying out of crowded places… we all know the drill.  Thankfully, in January of 2021, we had a very safe and effective vaccine introduced to the population and many people rushed to get it. Unfortunately, due to many factors; the media, the social media, conspiracy theories and politics, many people to this day think the vaccine is not safe or worse it contains deliberate harm placed there by the government or high-profile individuals or (and on and on). None of this is true, but the consequences of this campaign of misinformation is that it keeps roughly thirty to forty percent of the adult population from getting vaccinated. After about two months of high levels of vaccinations and continued social distancing measures, the US COVID case levels plummeted in early spring (a really good thing). At that point, the entire county let out a collective hurrah and the sentiment across the United States is that we have won, and the pandemic is behind us. This in turn leads to everyone (vaccinated and unvaccinated alike) rushing back to pre-pandemic activities such as packing into restaurants, filling up churches, attending full capacity sporting events and holding large family gatherings, you were there, you saw it. The problem is that the pandemic is only over for those who are fully vaccinated. So right now, at this moment, unvaccinated people are at the highest risk that they have ever been in since the start of the pandemic. They are taking no precautions in the face of the Delta strain of COVID-19 which is reported to be much more contagious. For comparison, the infectivity rate for the original COVID strain was one person would on average infect 2.5 other people. The Delta variant on average infects 4 other people.

So, what does it mean if you are vaccinated? Currently, if you are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna you are 88% percent protected from symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 96% protected from hospitalization. The message here is clear, GET VACCINATED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your church. Tell your co-workers the following information:

According to the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) there have been three known deaths attributed to receiving a COVID vaccine, all blood clots related to the J&J vaccine. That is out of 309 million doses given in the United States. This also means that not one single death has been attributed to either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Therefore, your risk of dying from receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is 0.0%.

According to multiple sources including the CDC, the risk of death from COVID rises with age. By age forty to sixty a person’s risk of dying is roughly 1-2% and above sixty the risk rises from 5% up to 20% the older one gets.

Bottom line, the vaccine has zero chance of killing you versus the COVID virus which has somewhere between a 0.1% to 20% chance of killing you or someone you love based on their age and health conditions. From a medical standpoint, this risk/benefit assessment is very easy to interpret.

Now, if many in our community persist with not getting vaccinated, here is what we can expect over the next couple of months. Vaccinated people are well protected and can continue to return to normal pre-pandemic activities. Unvaccinated COVID infections will rise, leading to illness, severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths which are all entirely preventable. Since ages 12 and below cannot be vaccinated as of yet, members of their families who are not vaccinated are at high risk of infecting their children. This will lead to outbreaks in the school system in the fall which will spread throughout the faculty and staff who are not vaccinated. With rising infections throughout Madison County from unvaccinated citizens, the Delta variant will make its way back into the nursing homes where the mortality rate for unvaccinated residents is 20%. In other words, there will be deaths due to unvaccinated family members or staff who bring the virus in the door. This is also true for the elderly who live at home. Visitation at Madison County Memorial Hospital will be limited until this unvaccinated wave of infections runs its course. I do not know how long that will be.

I know there has been a lot of talk and hype about this vaccine and COVID-19 in general. People have railed against wearing masks and social distancing, and now it is very unlikely that the federal government will enact any more restrictions. Again, let me state that now is the most dangerous point in this pandemic for unvaccinated people, there is no social distancing, no mask, no real precautions at all (this above-mentioned group has finally gotten their wish) who now face of a virus which is more contagious and probably more lethal than the original. Each of us need to ask ourselves which side of this do we want to be on for the safety of ourselves, our family and friends, and our patients.

Thank you for your time.

Brett Perkins MD
Chief Medical Officer
Madison County Memorial Hospital

##  Located near downtown Madison, Florida serving a sixty-mile radius of North Florida and South Georgia, MCMH has an Emergency Room, Medical Floor, Swing-bed, and Acute Care as well as Outpatient- diagnostic, physical, occupational and speech therapy, full-service laboratory, Endoscopy, Wound Care, and General Surgery, the goal is to build a collaborative network to ensure a strong and healthy community through innovative health services.  www.mcmh.us and Facebook madisoncountymemorialhospitalMCMH.  ##

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