Letter: Prevent mutations by stopping the spread
By making the choice to become vaccinated, you reduce the chance of infecting others – your family, elderly, health care workers, educators and more – it is a moral responsibility and a charitable act of love and kindness for the common good.
As COVID-19 vaccines roll out and infection rates decline, the temptation to relax precautions and get back to normal becomes even more enticing.
However, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist.
To date, 1,461 North Dakotans died from COVID-19. As you may already know, variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 - which have been documented in the United States and globally - have the potential to take even more lives if we are not diligent in taking preventive measures.
What we do know is that by stopping the virus from replicating – by eliminating the spread – we also eliminate virus mutations.
Getting back to normal is within reach if we all do our part by stopping the spread. As a physician and chair of the North Dakota Medical Association’s Physician Advisory Group, the PAG appeals to the public to heed the following advice:
The rate of new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the state is currently decreasing. There are certain things we can all do to maintain the downward trend of new infections:
- Wear face masks when in a public gathering,
- Practice social distancing (at least 6 ft. apart) when in public, and
- Get vaccinated once the vaccine becomes available in your area.
There are three vaccines currently licensed for use in the United States:
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, given as two shots, three weeks apart: Vaccine uses mRNA technology to deliver a code to the body to synthesize COVID-19 spike proteins.
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, given as two shots, four weeks apart: Vaccine also uses mRNA technology.
Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, given as a single shot: Vaccine uses non-replicating and harmless adenovirus type 26 (Ad26) vector to deliver a code for the body to synthesize COVID-19 spike proteins.
All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
Vaccine demand currently outstrips supply; therefore, we may not have the option to choose a specific vaccine. We encourage everyone to receive the vaccine made available to them by their provider.
All approved COVID-19 vaccines were manufactured using properly researched, cutting-edge new technologies. The research period was compressed in time without compromising quality. This advanced technology is now being applied to develop vaccines for other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
All COVID-19 vaccines may have minor side effects such as a sore arm, chills, achiness, and headache.
The PAG encourages you to do the right thing by doing your part to stop the spread. By making the choice to become vaccinated, you reduce the chance of infecting others – your family, elderly, health care workers, educators and more – it is a moral responsibility and a charitable act of love and kindness for the common good.
Get vaccinated. Do it for yourself and for our community.
Connell is chair of the North Dakota Medical Association's Physician Advisory Group.