Letter to the editor: Be patriotic and get the vaccine

Published 7:31 am Monday, August 23, 2021

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To the editor:

As healthcare providers who serve and care for the people of Davie County, we want to thank Davie County Schools superintendent Jeff Wallace and the entire board of education for their thoughtful and seriously needed reversal of the decision on masking in Davie County Schools.   This newspaper’s front-page story suggested that the decision was an administrative reversal of the action of the board. Everyone should know that each member of the BOE agreed with this decision when presented with the facts about how masking could help keep children safe and in school, which is what we all want. Please join us in supporting the board of education, superintendent, and all the educational staff for their efforts in providing a safe learning environment and keeping the community healthy.

From the medical perspective, this reversal was necessary due to rapid change in how the virus spreads. From early July to now, we have had nearly an eight-fold increase in cases. Many of the cases were through children into the households, with children now accounting for 20 percent of all infections. We were all hopeful and joyful during the summer months when the transmission rates were low. Unfortunately, we are again seeing many people critically ill and hospitals strained of their resources. The virus is now more contagious, spreading to 8-9 people for each person it infects (compared to 1-2 previously), and 2.7 times more likely to place children in the hospital compared to earlier in the pandemic. We are dealing with a different type of virus from what we experienced during the last school year.

We believe in science and we care for our children. In fact, we care about everyone in our community. The science shows us that wearing masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Masks are not perfect but masking helps – and is the most effective when everyone wears one. Many of us have school-aged children and understand that kids may not enjoy wearing them. Children are adaptive and resilient. Given the right perspective and reasons for wearing masks, they will adapt and thrive. Several school systems have already seen what happens with the mask optional approach with hundreds, even thousands, of children and staff already on quarantine and some becoming very ill. If parents truly want their children to be in school, they should do everything possible to assure as safe a place as possible –that includes masking. This is especially the case given that children under 12 are not yet able to get vaccinated. Again, thank you Superintendent Wallace and the Davie County Board of Education for being proactive rather than reactive by prioritizing the health of our children.

Science tells us that the vaccine is our most potent weapon against the COVID-19 virus. Again, not perfect. Yes, some fully vaccinated folks become infected and can even transmit the virus but with a much lower likelihood. Over 95 percent of the seriously ill and hospitalized cases of COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Nearly all of the recent deaths have been in unvaccinated people. Unfortunately, only 45 percent of Davie residents are vaccinated.  We are troubled by how many of our neighbors have refused to be vaccinated. To us, this shows a lack of concern for one’s own wellbeing. Even more, failure to get vaccinated shows a lack of concern for our children, our families, our friends and our neighbors.

Please get past the political rhetoric and misinformation about the vaccine (and we know that there is a lot of misinformation out there). If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, ask your healthcare providers. Do the right thing as a truly patriotic citizen – get vaccinated.

This letter was written in collaboration among the following healthcare professionals:

Joel Edwards, MD, Mocksville; Tak Hirata, MD;

Christine Shugart, MD; Gigi Smith, MD;

Bill Renfroe, MD; Melissa Champ-Seagle, MD;

Nicholas Netherland, MD; Amelia Craver, PA;

April Shore, FNP. Jennifer Myers-Cassidy, FNP;

Mike Cevasco, PA; Shalyn Beck, FNP;

Margaret Bovender, FNP; Lindsay Hartman, FNP