COVID-19 continues to evolve and expand its grip across the country and here in eastern North Carolina.
“This is one of the most diabolical viruses I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Paul Bolin, chief of Adult Medical Services at Vidant Medical Center, and the chair of the Department of Medicine at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.
“We were in a good place. Transmission had slowed down, more and more people were getting vaccinated and protected, hospitalization days started to really come down, number of cases started to come down – and many of us thought we were in the last leg of this marathon,” said Dr. Niti Armistead, chief medical officer for Vidant Health. “What changed was the vaccination rates just hit a wall.”
“In North Carolina, in the past three to four weeks, we have seen a tripling in the number of cases, and in the number of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Bolin. “We’re seeing the same things as we did last fall and winter, but it’s in a much younger and much healthier population.”
Another difference now – we have a vaccine.
“It’s like wearing your seatbelt – your chances of being in an automobile accident are very low, but your chances of surviving that with a seatbelt are much greater,” said Dr. Bolin. “Your chance of surviving COVID are 25 fold better with the vaccine than without it.”
Even still – roughly half of the country remains unvaccinated, enabling the virus to mutate and variants to cause an increase in infections and complications.
“The virus didn’t slow down just because our vaccination rates dropped,” said Dr. Armistead.
Experts say most concerns about the vaccine don’t outweigh the risk of being unprotected.
“I think the most important thing to understand is this: there have been some very small number of complications from the vaccine. And that is a one-time event that occurs after the vaccination,” said Dr. Bolin. “Your risk of dying from COVID if you’re not vaccinated continues day after day after day after day, until this pandemic is over with.”
Vidant Health has appointments available for anyone eligible to receive the vaccine. Visit www.VidantHealth.com/vaccinate and schedule yours today.