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BERNARD COLUMN: Get vaccinated or get COVID

By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

I have spoken to several non-political Southern physicians recently about the pandemic. They were candid in their assessments of the virus and what we can do to prevent further damage to American society. They had the following insights:

-The virus has won the battle. It will not be defeated short-term. However, we are in a war and one battle does not determine our fate. 

– So, over the long-term we must ensure that Americans do not die or get very ill if they get it. How? Adults, healthy or unhealthy, must get vaccinated. Period.

-For the unvaccinated, it is no longer a question of “if” you will get Covid, but rather “when.” The choice should be obvious but for many Americans is not due to politics and misplaced mistrust of authority.

-For those choosing to stay unvaccinated, there are major downsides. Estimates are that 2% to 20% of those adults getting Covid are “long-termers” with lasting effects, some major and permanent. Actual figures are not collected and are hard to come by. These effects include breathing issues, fatigue, chest pains, dizziness, and so on.

-Boosters will be required for those in high-risk groups, including the elderly and those with pre-existing diseases. Accept it, like we do with the annual flu shots.

– The virus is bipartisan; it does not take sides. So, stop approaching the pandemic from a liberal or conservative perspective. Only the science should be used to determine what Americans should do to prevent further pandemic harm.

As regards mask mandates, I have my own perspectives. We have long had a dress code when entering restaurants, “no shoes, no service.” We require women to wear a blouse when in public. No one raises a stink about it. Certainly, not religious conservatives.

The same goes for vaccinations. It has long been established practice in state law that students must be vaccinated for a variety of diseases before going to school.

Our home state of Georgia is very specific about its school vaccination mandates, providing for only specified exemptions. Per statute (Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-771-f) during “an epidemic or a threatened epidemic of any disease preventable by an immunization required by the Department of Public Health, children who have not been immunized may be excluded from the school or facility until (1) they are immunized against the disease, unless they present valid evidence of prior disease, or (2) the epidemic or threat no longer constitutes a significant public health danger.” And exemptions are only “valid for one year.”

So, as we can see, vaccinations have been mandated in the past. It’s nothing new.