Opinion: Vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19 – Community News

Opinion: Vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19

As Alaskans move in with the arrival of colder weather, we reflect on the sorrows and opportunities of the past year and wonder if we are ready for the long winter. We think about the abundance of fish and berries and game in Alaska, and we think about sharing our abundance with those we love. In this season of gratitude, we are grateful to our colleagues in medicine and nursing who have worked long shifts in protective gear to save the lives of too many Alaskans sick with COVID-19. We also appreciate that Juneau residents have one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.

We at the Alaska State Medical Association encourage you to join us and show your gratitude to these healthcare heroes by protecting yourself and your community from preventable diseases by getting recommended vaccines.

We want to be very clear that the recent conference in Anchorage advocating alternative early treatments for COVID-19 does not represent mainstream medical thinking. When we as physicians conduct our research, we rely on peer-reviewed evidence such as that collected on the CDC’s website. The scientific evidence is very clear. The three available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective. They are the best tools we have to prevent COVID-19 infection and especially serious illness, hospitalization and death.

If you have any questions about your specific medical situation, as always, please speak to your primary care physician or general practitioner. Here are our recommendations for nearly all Alaskans:

Receive a COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are now allowed for anyone 5 years and older. They are safe and effective for children, adults and pregnant people. 96% of doctors in America have chosen to be vaccinated and they have their children vaccinated.

If you didn’t get your first COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not too late to protect yourself in time for vacation trips and gatherings. Join the hundreds of thousands of Alaskan health professionals, military and federal workers, and others who are fully vaccinated and well protected.

If it has been more than 6 months since you received your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and you are at increased risk, take a booster to boost your protection.

If it has been more than 2 months since you received your J&J/Janssen vaccine, take your booster.

If you already had COVID-19 disease, a vaccine will provide you with stronger protection for a longer period of time than antibodies against the disease. We recommend that you get vaccinated.

Get a flu shot

Influenza has arrived in Alaska, historically taking a huge toll on Alaska’s health. The annual flu shot is a good protection against severe flu and protects you as well as frail elderly and immunocompromised people around you.

Catching up on health maintenance

If you’re delaying a mammogram or other cancer screening, now is a good time to catch up.

As representatives of the doctors of Alaska, we wish you a happy and healthy winter season. We extend our gratitude to all Alaskans who do your part to keep yourself and your community healthy.

• Janice Sheufelt, MD is president of the Alaska State Medical Association. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the views of the author, not the views of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? This is how you submit a My turn or letter.

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