Editorial:

Fight COVID and the flu by getting vaccinated

Posted 10/19/21

In recent weeks, COVID-19 has become widespread in our communities, to the point that you likely know someone who became so sick with the coronavirus that they were hospitalized.

Tragically, the …

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Editorial:

Fight COVID and the flu by getting vaccinated

Posted

In recent weeks, COVID-19 has become widespread in our communities, to the point that you likely know someone who became so sick with the coronavirus that they were hospitalized.

Tragically, the deaths of 60 Park County residents have been tied to the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to data from the Wyoming Department of Health.

Grief is compounded by weariness as the pandemic drags on, with the two-year anniversary on the horizon.

It’s an understatement to say we’re all ready to be done with COVID — reading about it, worrying about it, debating over it and suffering from it. But many Park County residents have yet to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

So that’s why we’re writing about COVID today, to encourage you to consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already.

Local doctors have too often heard sick patients say, “If only I had known how bad this was going to be,” said Dr. Dean W. Bartholomew with 307Health. 

“We have multiple, previously healthy 40- to 60-year-old patients who have been either hospitalized or are at home on oxygen therapy in really concerning medical conditions,” he wrote in a recent Facebook post.

Like many medical professionals, Bartholomew recommends getting vaccinated against COVID.

“Friends, the vaccine unquestionably is effective in decreasing the severity of the Covid infection if an infection develops at all,” Bartholomew wrote. “No politics … no mandates … no shaming … just OUR story here in the Big Horn Basin.”

Vaccines against COVID-19 are free and available locally at Park County Public Health, Powell Drug, Walmart, Walgreens and Billings Clinic Cody.

It’s also time to think about getting a flu shot. Last year, flu activity was “unusually low,” the Wyoming Department of Health said.

“Looking back, it appears the precautions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 also likely reduced the impact of influenza significantly,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer.

But this year could bring a double whammy, with both influenza and COVID circulating in the community.

“While we are unable to predict how much flu we’ll see in Wyoming this season, we are concerned about the combined impact of both influenza and COVID-19 on our hospitals and on our state’s residents,” Harrist said in a press release last week.

The good news is that safe vaccines are available to combat the flu, too. Park County Public Health is hosting its annual flu clinic Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Park County Fairgrounds.

Yes, it’s possible that you could still get the flu or COVID, even after getting the vaccine. 

“While there are breakthrough infections in folks who are vaccinated … the literature is clear that vaccination decreases the chances that a patient with breakthrough COVID-19 will be hospitalized or die,” Dr. Bartholomew wrote.

If you’re still unsure about the vaccines, talk with a local doctor you trust — don’t just rely on TV/radio personalities, social media posts or other online information created by someone you don’t know. We don’t believe in forcing anyone to get vaccinated, but we do believe in seeking the best information. In this case, the evidence is clear: Vaccines are effective and safe for most people — and could even save your life.

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