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Vaccinations imperative Do your part

“I have never been this sick.” 

“I’m not kidding, it has been rough.” 

These are just a couple of comments we’ve heard recently from locals who are among the 38 new cases of confirmed coronavirus here in Pickens over the past 14 days, according to numbers released by the North Georgia Health District Monday, August 2nd. In the same period, our neighbors to the north in Gilmer County have had 24 confirmed cases, Cherokee County to the south has had 430 cases, Fannin clocked in at 56 new cases, Dawson with 46, and Gordon with 99. 

And while anecdotal, it seems everyone knows someone who got dealt the COVID card in July.

Across our state, 22,000 people have contracted the COVID-19 virus in the past two weeks, a resurgence of a deadly virus that science can help us avoid.  Vaccination is more urgent than ever as children and teachers head back to school and spend their days inside classrooms. No one wants to return to the days of  trying to educate our children remotely on a computer screen. It just doesn’t work. Governments and businesses also find it hard to conduct their essential business within the confines of online meetings and staggered staffing days. The local elections board was forced last week to move one of their first meetings with a new board online because of COVID issues and Nelson’s city council had to cancel their meeting last week because of it. A local roofing crew shut down their operations last week because of COVID and roofers aren’t the type to run to the doctor at a sniffle.

COVID is bad. That has been made abundantly clear over the past year and a half.  

If you haven’t already been vaccinated, the time is now. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to get vaccinated as the number of new COVID-19 cases increases daily and the Delta variant spreads. Not only is the DPH asking residents to get vaccinated, but your neighbors are too.

Get vaccinated now before things get even worse. Now before you infect the person you sit next to. Now before your asymptotic self goes to the grocery store and spreads a virus you didn’t even know you had. A virus that can kill the person who just ran into the store to make a quick stop. They don’t deserve to catch COVID because you got suckered into some online rant against vaccines or were just too lazy to go get one.

Less than 0.004 percent of people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have to be hospitalized, and less than 0.001 percent have died from the disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no cost to clients to get the vaccine at our local health department. And no appointment is needed. You can literally just walk into the health department at 60 Health Way, Jasper during business hours and get vaccinated.

The COVID case rate in Georgia has increased 204% over the last 14-day period. On Monday, new cases totaled 4,612 – the highest daily number since mid-February, according to the NGHD. Hospitalizations have increased by about 50 percent in the last 14 days, and deaths have increased by about 18 percent in the same period. Vaccination has stalled statewide and only 40 percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated, according to the NGHD. And Pickens is slightly below that.

The CDC estimates the Delta variant accounts for  78 percent of new COVID cases in Georgia, making vaccination more urgent than ever. The Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, compared with earlier strains. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes are happening in places with low vaccination rates, and virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.

All Georgians aged 12 and older are urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you receive either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you must get your second dose to ensure you are fully protected. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of vaccine.  

COVID vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. are safe and effective against COVID-19 and the variants that are circulating. 

Vaccination is the best defense at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death. The delta variant is causing some “vaccine breakthrough infections,” meaning infections in fully vaccinated people, but even so, most breakthrough infections are mild. In areas with substantial and high transmission, the CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

As Nike would say, “Just do it.” Quit hand-wringing, grandstanding or whining and go get the shot.

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