Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
Letter to the Editor
August 25, 2021
I am writing to the community to try again to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While the incidence of the virus was quite low locally through the late spring and summer, it is clearly starting to reappear in Valley County and across Northeast Montana.
Our part of the state (specifically Phillips, Valley, Roosevelt and Daniels Counties) has a vaccination rate similar to that seen in the devastated areas of the Southeastern US, between 37-40%. Right now, even in rural parts of Louisiana,
Arkansas and Texas, ICUs and entire hospitals are filling up with sick and dying patients. Being rural is no protection from the spread of this virus.
If this can happen there, it can happen here.
In fact, it did happen here last fall. For several weeks in October and November, COVID rates were as bad in our area as any place in the country.
Right now, the rate of infection in the US has been doubling every two weeks for the past 6 weeks. This is a terrifying trend. If we do nothing, we can fully expect to see 300,000 cases per day by early September, which is worse than it was during the worst of the peak in January.
Vaccination is the best way out of this. The various vaccines have been proven to protect against infection, but even when there is a breakthrough infection, they are very effective against hospitalization and death.
The vaccines do protect against the Delta variant, and getting the shot into more people is the best way to prevent it from mutating further. The vaccines are very safe. Hundreds of millions of vaccine doses have been distributed in this country and the rate of side effects is very small, especially compared to the devastating effects of the virus. The vaccine is also free, which is amazing because it is very reliable at protecting an expensive ER visit or, more serious yet, an ICU stay, which can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Our hospital is small. We can take care of people when we have the resources, but last year's fall surge showed us that we can easily be overwhelmed. Our referral hospitals are already stretched and by the time we are full, it is likely we will have nowhere else to go. We have to solve this problem ourselves, and the answer is vaccines.
Please, go to the Valley County Health Department on Wednesdays between 4 and 6 p.m.
They are now doing walk-in vaccine clinics. You don't need to call ahead.
The shot is free. Get the vaccine and stay safe out there.