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Injection Versus Infection: A Bigger Game Than the Super Bowl

Be serious, is there any event bigger than the Super Bowl?

Well, this annual championship game of the National Football League is one of the biggest single day sporting events in the world, drawing high television ratings each year. This huge exposure attracts advertisers, who in 2020 paid an average $5.6 million for a 30-second ad spot during the Super bowl broadcast. That’s $187,000 a second!

In a typical year, the host city — Tampa Bay, Florida for Super Bowl LV (that’s 55 for those of us with impaired Latin language skills) — reportedly can expect an economic windfall with tens of thousands of visitors occupying hotel rooms, filling restaurants, and supporting other entertainment venues. Travelers, tourists, shopping, crowded bars and cafes, attending mass gatherings, have all been essentially shuttered by the coronavirus.

If one hasn’t noticed, this is not a typical year. Did you realize a few weeks ago we mourned the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed American death from SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19?

Recently, the U.S. has crossed the wretched milestone of 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than 25 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

That pesky virus has had a negative impact on all of us. It’s personal. We all know someone who has been afflicted: some not so sick, some very sick, some hospitalized, some in the ICU and sadly some have died.

This tragic pandemic plows on.

Yet there is hope: the number of people hospitalized appears to be decreasing, the case death rate is decreasing, data-driven newer treatments are proving effective, contact tracing has improved, and people are following the 3 “Ws:” Watch your distance, Wash your hands, and Wear your mask.

The “elephant in the room” question remains: When will this pandemic end?

The simple answer is: when the SARS-CoV-2 virus has nowhere to live, hide, multiply, and spread. In this critical game of hide and seek, it requires greater than three-fourths of the population to be immune. Yes, herd immunity. There are basically two ways to achieve human immunity to the virus: Active immunity following the recovery from COVID-19 disease — you will remember the suffering and potential death associated with that method — and passive immunity for most of us via the vaccine.

The most important game: Injection vs. Infection.

The encouraging news since the two COVID vaccines have been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is they have proven to be safe and very effective. Yet, vaccines do not stop pandemics, vaccinations and injections in the arm do.

Recent survey data indicates 66% of Americans say “they will try to get vaccinated.”

You will recall, the country needs more than 75% of the population immune to end this pandemic game.

For those who are vaccine hesitant, many myths fuel the resistance. To address a few: One cannot get coronavirus disease from the snippet of mRNA in the vaccine. The technology to develop is not new as it has been in development for over a decade. I agree, allergic reactions can occur and although exceedingly rare need to be monitored at the vaccine injection center.

If 2020 was the year of the pandemic then 2021 is the year of the vaccine. The fight in this game of Injection versus Infection is not over until it is over for all of us. Widespread vaccination certainly provides the greatest chance of defeating COVID-19. Don’t hesitate, vaccinate. Enjoy the “other game!” And oh, yeah, don’t throw away your masks and hand sanitizers just yet.

Dr. C. Clark Milton, DO, FACOI , is director of Corporate Health at Wheeling Hospital.

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