The incidence of coronavirus (SARS‑CoV‑2) in our region has been on the rise once again in recent weeks, and Carilion Clinic is seeing increased hospitalizations from COVID‑19 as well.
Anthony Baffoe-Bonnie, M.D., medical director of Carilion Clinic Infection Prevention and Control, recently shared information about this trend and guidance on how to end it.
"What is unique about this upward trend," he said, "is that almost 90 percent of the patients we're seeing, some of whom end up intubated, are not vaccinated."
"This is preventable."
"We know that the vaccines work, and they prevent people from having severe disease."
Infection following vaccination is rare, and when "breakthrough" infections occur, they tend to be mild, similar to a sinus infection.
However, when an unvaccinated person becomes infected, especially with this new delta variant, the disease can have devastating consequences.
"People who are not vaccinated may think they cannot get seriously sick from COVID‑19," said Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie, but the evidence is clear that they can."
Over the long course of this pandemic, we have all received conflicting messages, and confusion is understandable. What's more, as long as COVID‑19 is with us, we can expect that to continue.
To combat that confusion, Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie recommends finding reliable, trustworthy sources of information to help guide your decisions.
"Talk to somebody you trust," he said, such as your primary care provider or someone in your community.
The most reliable sources are those whose primary goal is to eradicate this disease. These include:
- Your primary care provider
- Health care organizations like Carilion Clinic
- Public health organizations
- State health agencies like the Virginia Department of Health
When information and recommendations are based on up-to-date data and shared with the goal of improving public health, the message becomes much clearer:
"Get vaccinated. It does save lives."
"Take that step," said Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie. "We can all prevent severe COVID and the uptick in cases by getting vaccinated."
The medical community is working hard—and working together—to stamp out this disease. Millions of businesses, organizations and local communities have joined the effort to make this free vaccine available to everyone who is eligible, and millions of individuals have joined the team by getting vaccinated and encouraging their friends and families to do so as well.
Dr. Baffoe-Bonnie encourages everyone to join the team to help decrease the risk for themselves and those around them.
"The vaccine will not only protect you," he said, "it will also prevent you from transmitting the virus to a loved one who may go on to get COVID and pass away from it."
If you have not received your free COVID-19 vaccine, you have many options:
- Visit CarilionClinic.org/covid-19-vaccine to make an appointment
- Make an appointment with your primary care provider
- Check for availability and scheduling at nearby urgent care centers like VelocityCare
- Get your vaccine at a nearby Carilion Clinic Pharmacy
- Call your local retail pharmacy, such as those at CVS, Wal-Mart and Kroger stores