It’s this easy: Go to utmbhealth.com/vaccine or call 877-389-2318 and get your name on the waiting list for the coronavirus vaccination. Don’t worry about your age, your job, your overall health or whether you have an underlying medical condition that puts you at higher risk.
Don’t worry — signing up isn’t the cyber equivalent of cutting in line. You’ll get a notification when it’s legitimately your turn. It won’t be tomorrow or next week. Depending on those factors we just told you not to worry about, it might be three months before you get your shot.
By the time your name rises to the top of the list, maybe vaccinations will be readily available to anyone who wants them. But chances are it’ll be many months before that happens.
So get on the list.
Clearly, we’re advocating for everyone to get their double dose of the coronavirus vaccine as soon as they can. That’s because there are two things that are going to knock the wind out of COVID’s sails, and they work in tandem.
1. As many people as possible get vaccinated. Experts differ on what percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to create herd immunity, where enough people are immune to the virus that it takes its weird spiked ball and goes home. The estimates have been between 60 percent and 80 percent.
Forbes reported that as of Monday, 22 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which amounts to about 7.7 percent of the population. In Galveston County, 9,100 people — just less than 3 percent — have been fully vaccinated, and 31,921 or just about 10 percent have been partially vaccinated. Percentages in minority communities nationally are even smaller, according to Forbes. We’ve got a ways to go.
2. We keep following the same common-sense safety protocols we’ve been following: masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing and keeping those hands away from our faces.
No one wants to believe that No. 2 is a reality; we all hoped that a vaccine would let us get back to glad-handing strangers in crowded bars.
But there are a few solid reasons for staying the course. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp write in their Vaccine Smarts column in today’s Daily News that “a person who started the vaccination process on New Year’s Day will not be fully protected until Valentine’s Day.”
Also, the vaccines are about 95 percent effective, which means that one out of every 20 vaccinated people remains unprotected — and there’s no way of knowing who they are.
Plus, masks and distancing help those who haven’t been vaccinated.
“Although the vaccines keep people symptom-free, it’s not known if they keep vaccinated individuals from growing and spreading the virus,” the doctors wrote. “Masks and social distancing are acts of kindness that protect and keep others safe.”
We get that many people are taking a wait-and-see attitude out of fear of the unknown: Is it safe? What about side effects?
Good points, but there have been few reports of serious side effects. Those same perfectly legitimate fears certainly festered when vaccines were introduced for baby-killers like polio, smallpox, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis, measles etc.
But people pushed through those fears, and that’s precisely why we don’t walk around worrying about baby-killers like polio, smallpox, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis, measles etc.
If you’re an anti-vaxxer in general, you’re welcome. You can choose to send your unvaccinated child to school and out into the world because the vast majority of us chose not to. You’ll probably opt out of the COVID vaccination too. Simply put: That’s not helpful. Get on the list.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner