Dear fellow Northern Nevadans,
As your local frontline healthcare providers, we are pleading for your help to mitigate the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by asking you to get vaccinated against the disease. We represent all six Emergency Departments in the greater Reno-Tahoe area and five pre-hospital systems, in other words, everyone who would be caring for you or your loved ones should you get sick or injured.
Since the start of this pandemic, we have been learning about this virus from reliable sources, all while treating scores of critically ill community members. If you could witness, as we have, the devastation caused by this illness, we believe you would not hesitate to get vaccinated. The delta variant of the virus is much more transmissible than the original variant, and the disease it causes is more severe. Younger and younger people are becoming infected; the time is now to protect ourselves and others.
When limited hospital resources are being stressed, largely by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, non-COVID-19 patients may not get the care they need. When patients are seeking emergency care for conditions such as strokes, serious trauma, heart attacks, and severe allergic reactions, the hospitals and ambulances may not have the equipment, supplies, or human resources available to treat those emergencies in a timely manner.
Sources of misinformation on social media and elsewhere are fueling a potentially catastrophic reality. The truth is that vaccines are safe, effective, free, and available. The vaccines contain no part of the virus. The mRNA vaccines work by getting your own body to produce a spike protein that resembles the spike protein on the actual virus. Your body builds up antibodies against this benign protein that it created itself. Then, if your body encounters that spike protein again, through exposure to the actual coronavirus, it will have the ability to fight it.
Even if vaccinated people get infected, they do not get nearly as sick because of this added protection. In fact, 99.2% of the patients in intensive care units with COVID are unvaccinated. They are suffering and dying needlessly. This breaks our hearts because it is preventable.
Over 360 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the United States. Worldwide, over five billion doses have been administered. There is no reason to be scared about the vaccination; there is much reason to fear a COVID infection.
We wrote this letter because we have been living the horrible realities of this pandemic every day for a year and a half. We witness the fear in patients’ eyes as they come in achy and breathless. We have brought phones to the bedsides of unvaccinated patients with COVID-19 so they can hear their loved ones say goodbye as they die alone. There have been instances where a pregnant woman, infected with the virus and threatened by low oxygen levels, must have her baby delivered prematurely in a desperate attempt to save the life of both baby and mother.
Long COVID symptoms are destroying the lives of previously healthy people. Some suffer from constant breathing difficulties. Some are now on dialysis because their kidneys have failed. The ramifications of COVID-19 extend far beyond the death toll; it is changing people’s lives forever.
We medical professionals know that widespread vaccination is our community’s best chance to gain control of this pandemic, possibly our only chance. The virus has mutated dozens of times. It is dodging us because so far, it has always found another place to go. Its goal is to survive, and so far it is winning.
The more people who become vaccinated, the safer we are. Polio, a devastating disease caused by another virus, was completely eradicated through a widespread vaccination campaign. The disease ravaged this and other countries, crippling adults and children alike, but through community cooperation and vaccination, there has not been a case of polio originating in the US since 1979.
The following are facts:
Vaccinated people are less likely to get infected, less likely to require hospitalization, and less likely to die from COVID-19. If you are vaccinated and contract COVID-19, your symptoms are likely to be much less severe than if you are not vaccinated. Prior infection does not build up the level of antibodies that a vaccination does, and the antibodies from actual infection do not last as long as the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine. Vaccination is recommended even for people who have had COVID, after an interval from the end of the illness.
As frontline providers, we know that if we want to live healthy, normal lives without masks, as many people as possible must get vaccinated. A return to normalcy can be hastened by your participation in vaccination against COVID-19. We ask this not only as physicians and paramedics, but as fellow moms, dads, sisters, brothers, neighbors, and community members.
Your local healthcare providers, the people who are here to take care of you, created this message because we need your help to be able to keep helping you. Please choose to vaccinate now. We urge you to go visit www.ImmunizeNevada.org or call 1-800-401-0946 to find out where you can receive the safe, free, and effective COVID-19 vaccine today.
The Emergency Physicians of:
- Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center Emergency Department
- Reno Emergency Physicians Association/Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center
- Barton Health Emergency Department
- Northern Nevada Emergency Physicians/Renown Health Systems Emergency Departments
- Envision Healthcare/Northern Nevada Medical Center and the Emergency Department at McCarran
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