With the arrival of spring and the sun’s inviting warmth growing stronger, it’s not hard to imagine our downtowns, beaches, and lakes bustling with activity once again. Summer in Vacationland will, without a doubt, be here. But this past year, during the pandemic, while we could still enjoy some of the pleasures of a typical Maine summer, reunions, family gatherings, town festivals, fairs, and parades had to be put on hold. While this was absolutely the safest approach, I think most of us can agree that it just didn’t seem to be the way life should be. Unfortunately, we won’t be there again this summer or even fall unless more Mainers do their part to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

Maine’s rate of first dose vaccinations is just above 47 percent —still a far cry from where we need to be. While the exact percentage of what is needed to reach herd immunity, or population immunity, is not known, experts estimate this would require between 80-to-90 percent of the population to become fully vaccinated. Comparatively, immunity from measles requires 93-to-95 percent of a population to be vaccinated to avoid an outbreak. So far, this is something we’ve achieved through the course of regular childhood vaccinations, but specialists have warned, much like with COVID-19, we cannot let our guard down. We must remain vigilant to continue vaccination protocols or outbreaks of this disease may also once again become the norm.

Overall, vaccines are considered one of our greatest scientific achievements, helping to eradicate smallpox and polio as well as bringing other diseases such as diphtheria and whooping cough to exceptionally low levels. And, the COVID-19 vaccine is no different. I can say with absolute assuredness that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and had the appropriate steps taken in their production. More than 145 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered throughout the nation between December 14 – March 29. To date, there have been no deaths associated with receiving the vaccine.

On the flip side, the COVID-19 virus has killed about 550,000 people. In addition, severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, are extremely rare, occurring in approximately two to five people per million vaccinated in the United States. And, in the unlikely occurrence that a severe reaction would occur, safeguards are in place, such as onsite monitoring as well as immediate medical care. Rest assured, we are here with you every step of the way even when you return home.

It certainly is true that the COVID-19 vaccine is not a silver bullet; no vaccine can hold that power. By neglecting the proper safety precautions, such as masking and social distancing, you may catch the virus. However, current studies and research shows that after becoming fully vaccinated your likelihood of being hospitalized or dying is little to none. No matter your age, by neglecting vaccination, you are putting yourself and other unvaccinated individuals around you at extreme risk of hospitalization and death.

Sure, once you receive your vaccine you may feel not yourself for a brief period of time. The vaccine can bring side effects such as fatigue, aches, chills, and mild fever, but consider these signs of your body doing its job—a welcomed sign of your body’s newfound protection against this insidious virus. If you still have hesitation about getting the vaccine, I strongly urge you to speak with your doctor or a trusted medical professional. We are here to address your concerns and guide you towards making the best decision for you and your family.

Personally, I’m looking forward to reuniting with loved ones for a BBQ or perhaps a stroll down one of our beautiful beaches on a warm summer’s afternoon with friends. Help me make this a reality – let’s bring Maine back to the way life should be. Please get vaccinated.


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