By Chuck Wiser
The editor is allowing me an extra day of writing as I plead my case based on wanting to save my Thursday space to account for all that I am thankful for. As a whole, in this, and neighboring Cattaraugus County, there isn’t much to be thankful for when it comes to accepting the responsibility to do the right thing regarding getting vaccinated out of care, compassion and consideration for the elders of the area especially, and to others that may be around you. This may be a little harsh for some, but I think it needs to be.
Just to head off those weak “anti-vaccination” arguments or in the non-vaxxers mind “justifications”, YES you can still contract the virus even if vaccinated. Yes, you can still carry the disease and infect others, with or without actually having been diagnosed with the virus. However, if you do get it, your symptoms and illness are far less likely to reach the serious level, and/or to cause death.
Why can you still get it? The main factor is because we, more likely you if not vaccinated, failed to stop the spread of the virus when we had a reasonable chance to do so. Viruses are innately intelligent in their scientific way and when immunities against them start slowing their ability to live, and grow, they adjust to their habitat, and mutate into a more virulent form. That is an overly simplified and non-scientific explanation but does illustrate the mechanics of how the “Delta Variation” came to be among us, and for it to be so powerful, and especially deadly.
Along with the virus being “more potent”, after a period of months, the immunity that the vaccine helped develop in your body has lessened with time and that combination makes you once again susceptible, especially when exposed to a non-vaccinated individual in close contact.
Remember! This virus was new to the scientific and medical world and having no history of its capabilities over time, some of the unknowns are requiring adjustments to be made, and likely will have to be made in the future. Thus, a booster, to reinforce the immunity is being used.
I was given the argument by a friend the other day that his parents didn’t have to worry about catching Polio, Mumps or Smallpox, or be vaccinated from them, so why should we have to get vaccinated against the virus. I reminded him that his grandparents or their parents had to get vaccinated, and did so more willingly, in order to stamp out those diseases. I remember riding the bus from Friendship Central School to Cuba Central, as it had been set up as a vaccination site.
Why is the virus not only still spreading but gaining momentum? Because less than 50% of the people in Allegany County and Cattaraugus County have been fully vaccinated. People not having gotten vaccinated have two things to be “falsely” proud of. We are the least vaccinated counties in the entire State when New York State, as a whole, is one of the more highly vaccinated states in the Country. On top of that, and not surprisingly, we trade places back and forth between each other, and with one other county, as being the most highly infected counties, on a “per capita” basis, in the entire state, and rank right up there throughout the Country. Catt. Cty. Had 1 death and 100 new cases Monday and Alleg. Cty. Had 101 new cases over the weekend and 287 cases last week with 8 deaths. Nothing really to be proud of. Less than 50% Vaccinated and yet nearly 100% unmasked wandering around the stores and in dining or drinking establishments.
When I asked the editor if I could squeeze in this article citing my feelings about its importance before this holiday, he noted that he had attended two local government meetings yesterday and was the only one in attendance to be wearing a mask.
If you’re already vaccinated why should “you” have to wear a mask the “anti Vaxxers” ask? Well, because “we” may have been contaminated by “them” and then spread it, capable of unknowingly exposing others to it. As we always have done, we are wearing it out of consideration of others as much, or maybe more than, for our own protection
My warning(s) hinted at in the title, are twofold. At best we are facing further mask mandates or being put into lockdown again if we don’t start showing improvement and/or even getting worse, which is a distinct possibility with one of the busiest Holidays of the year happening tomorrow and carrying over to the weekend.
The second of the “two fold” is that, if needing emergency care should you get ill with the virus and, as it all too often happens, require hospitalization, you might encounter problems. Locally Jones Memorial Hospital and Olean General Hospital, of which I have more knowledge, and undoubtedly St. James in Hornell too, are in dire straights and facing catastrophic overloading. Having lost staff due to illnesses, stubborn refusal to get vaccinated resulting in voluntary quitting or being laid off, and, significantly increased Emergency Room visits, is causing severe problems. Hospital bed occupancy and Emergency Room space are literally overrun and overflowing.
Imagine if you will, and soon it may not be just your imagination, that you are resting nicely in your home content that your rights and freedoms have been sustained because you ignored the warnings, admonitions and cautions and “didn’t have to get jabbed”. At bedtime you felt a little ill, and maybe even in your own mind thought maybe you had contracted the virus, but you know, or think, it won’t be severe as you are still young being between 30 and 50 years of age.
At three AM, sleeping only restlessly, as you continue to get sicker, and sicker, you now are having difficulty breathing. You, or your partner, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Remember, this is in your imagination, so when the 911 operator asks you if you are vaccinated and advises if you aren’t, the ambulance cannot transport you, you are only dreaming, and the ambulance is on the way.
Enroute to the local hospital, after a half hour delayed ambulance response as they were already on another “Protocall 36” (infectious disease) call, the ambulance crew while headed to JMH, is advised that they will have to divert to Warsaw or URMC Rochester as those are the only two closest hospitals with room for you.
Sound unrealistic to you? It may not end up being a dream, and may even be just days away if we don’t get a handle on this Pandemic situation and all of us, especially you, if not vaccinated, don’t get on board and do the right thing.
We didn’t get to this edge of the precipice because of the President, or because of China, or because the virus is basically just like the flu. We got here because of you if you are unvaccinated. We got here because you, if unvaccinated, went out into the world not wearing a mask and went partying with likeminded friends. We got here because of all those people who share your convictions, or who convinced you to believe in your mistaken feeling of invincibility. You may not get it, or may not get seriously ill if you do, but what about that 60 or 70 year old, that YOU infected, and who didn’t have your invincibility.
Do you want that on your back, or on your conscience? What if it was your parent, or grandparent, or even, God forbid, one of your own children.