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Effectively Zero
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the August 25, 2021 issue of The Journal
   While there are still various questions and nuances worthy of healthy, civil debate concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, one piece of info is emerging that we should all pay close attention to.
   The vaccines are saving lives.
   Sure, there are some who have adverse effects from getting vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) even states on its website that vaccination may have contributed to some people dying. It should be noted that deaths following vaccinations do not necessarily prove that the shot caused the death. Correlation does not equal causation. Except for changing from white pants to red pants. That can definitely cause a Marion County youth baseball team to lose to Ellaville. After 39 years I'm sticking with that excuse, no matter what my friends from the "Green Machine" claim.
  However, if one were to assume that all the deaths reported were in fact due to the vaccine, it would still be a tiny percentage (around 0.0019% of the 357 million+ Americans who have been vaccinated).
   While an exact mortality rate for Covid is difficult to come by, it has often been reported at somewhere between 1% and 2%. If you look at the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, in Marion County there have been 24 confirmed virus-related deaths out of 531 confirmed cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. That's about 4.5%. In Schley County, it's 5 deaths out of 265 cases, or 1.8%. So, the range of 1 to 2% overall seems likely to be accurate (a bit higher in some counties/regions, a bit lower in others).
   What's better? A 0.0019% chance of dying after getting the vaccine or a 1 to 2% chance of dying if you get the virus?
   What about after you're vaccinated? You can still get Covid, right? Well, yes. You can. There have been some "breakthrough" cases where vaccinated people contract Covid. But is that a valid reason for not getting vaccinated? Perhaps it would be if that meant the vaccine had done nothing for you.
   However, that appears to definitely not be the case. While vaccinated people still have a chance of catching the virus, they have almost no chance of dying from it.
   While the virus is still relatively new to mankind and we can expect to learn more about it, and potential future variants, recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that the hospitalization rate of those who have been fully vaccinated but still catch the virus is 0.06% and that "the rates of death among fully vaccinated people with Covid-19 were even lower, effectively zero (0.00%) in all but two reporting states (Arkansas and Michigan, where they were 0.01%).
   So, 1 to 2% chance of death or a chance of death of "effectively zero"?
   Keep in mind that the "small" 1 to 2% gets real and personal really quick when it includes someone in your family or another loved one.
   This is not meant to be a call to shut down the economy or the schools. In fact, I'm not for either of those things.
   The impact on the economy has been obvious. Many area businesses would have been severely curtailed or destroyed by the first shutdown (even though Georgia's restrictions were not as severe as those in many states) if not for federal relief funds (money our government borrowed and that taxpayers will have to pay back with interest). Shutting the economy down should be off the table.
   The portion of time area students have lost in the classroom has already had a negative impact (as can be measured by declines across the board in scores on last spring's Georgia Milestones tests). It has surely had effects on youth that we can't measure as well, from social skills to intangibles like learning to work with others.
   However, if we want our government, including local school boards, to be able to avoid draconian measures like shutdowns, we need to help them. If cases spike (as they're currently doing in some parts of our region), they will be under tremendous pressure to "do something" to keep us safe.
   Instead, why don't we all consider "doing something"? For me that "something" was getting vaccinated.
   No, I'm not telling you to get vaccinated; I'm asking you to prayerfully consider it.
   I know it can be difficult trusting our government these days. Much conflicting information about Covid has been released over the last 1 1/2 years – not to mention the lying currently going on about the way we're exiting Afghanistan (or heck, pick the topic).
   If you've been putting off the vaccine because it's new and you're in the low-risk category, I understand. Perhaps the high-risk people in your family have been vaccinated, so you figure there's no rush for you to do likewise. I've been there. I delayed getting vaccinated for those very reasons.
   If you've been called a crazy, science ignoring buffoon, I've been there, too, but that's not why I ultimately decided to roll up my sleeve. I reluctantly decided to get vaccinated because after waiting a good while and watching the data, I decided it was the best things for me to do.
   * Full disclosure: I contracted Covid a couple weeks after getting the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. ... But my symptoms were mild enough that I kept up my running routine (alone) even while I had an active case. How many times did I think I needed to go to the ER? Effectively zero.