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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Elisabeth Warder, DDS: Your shot to make our community safer

By Elisabeth Warder, DDS

By Elisabeth Warder, DDS

The recipe for high-quality health care has two crucial ingredients: first, a focus on facts and science; and second, a commitment to open and honest communication.

We should incorporate those two ingredients into our community conversation about COVID-19 vaccines. Spokane County is doing better than many other counties across Washington in our vaccination rates, yet many local residents remain reluctant to receive the vaccine.

As a medical professional, I recognize that some people in our community may be unable to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, though I would encourage them to consult a physician or their spiritual leader to discuss their options.

What is harder to understand is why someone would simply choose to forgo the vaccine.

Doing so means missing out on a safe and convenient means to help protect not only yourself, your family and your friends, but also our entire community. It’s a prudent step, much like we take when we brush our teeth, or buckle our seatbelts, or wear a mask in public. The risks are low and the benefits can be lifesaving.

That’s why I got my COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it was made available to me. To me, it was an easy decision, given the scientific data available about the vaccines.

We’ve all heard a handful of reasons for why someone hasn’t been vaccinated. Early on, there were reports that vaccines were hard to find. But as supplies have grown, this isn’t the case and most people can find a shot with modest effort.

Some feel the vaccines were too rushed to be fully tested before reaching the public. But the reality is that researchers and scientists have been working on technologies to develop coronavirus vaccines long before any of us heard of COVID-19. Their efforts began nearly two decades ago, following the 2003 SARS outbreak. So while the exact nature of COVID-19 had to be analyzed in the early days of the pandemic, researchers weren’t starting from scratch in creating vaccines to fight it. Finally, the development process included controlled trial periods involving tens of thousands of volunteer patients. These vaccines were developed quickly, but they were far from rushed.

Others may argue that the vaccines carry the threat of complications, and there admittedly have been some highly publicized incidents of serious side effects. But the reality is that your risk of experiencing one of these side effects pales in comparison to the very serious health risks posed by COVID-19. And the research data indicates that there are no lingering impacts from the vaccine, while we continue to learn more about the long-term impacts of contracting the virus.

If you have questions about these or other facts involving COVID-19 vaccines, I urge you to consult your physician, your dentist, or another medical professional. We will provide you with science-based information and sincere advice.

The battle against COVID-19 in Spokane has been a community-wide team effort. First responders and frontline health care workers have shown remarkable dedication in treating those who have been infected by the virus. All health care providers, including dental practices like ours, have enacted additional safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus in our office.

The same goes for the creativity and care employed by retailers and restaurants, and by those who supply them, to continue serving the public. Teachers, students and parents all have adapted to new instructional models to reduce the disruptions to the education of our young people.

It’s time for everyone to join this team effort, and the best way to contribute is to sign up to be vaccinated as soon as possible. If you don’t know where to go, you can find a list of local vaccination sites at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/.

The bottom line is that the more people who get vaccinated, even those who have already had COVID-19, the safer our community will be – and the sooner all of us can safely return to a more normal lifestyle.

Dr. Elisabeth Warder is dental director for Community Health Associates of Spokane and serves as president of the Spokane District Dental Society.

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