I am a physician in central Maine and writing this with the understanding that I will get angry and possibly threatening responses. I take that risk because telling the truth and caring for the sick is what I signed on for when I became a physician.

The short message is that it’s time for everyone to get vaccinated.

My 29-year-old daughter, who has more medical issues than most her age, is ill right now with COVID-19. She arrived last Friday from New York to visit for a few days, the first time in a year.  As we were about to go out for dinner she mentioned she thought she had a slight cold, with a slight headache, because — she felt — she’d been working long hours.

We tested her in my office a few minutes before we were to go to a crowded restaurant, and she was instantly positive with a COVID antigen test. We are fully vaccinated. She is feeling OK, tired, achy and sore, and her cold-like symptoms are slowly improving. Thus far none of her New York friends are positive, including her boyfriend, her closest friend, a group of Maine friends who visited her a week ago, and others. They have all been vaccinated.

This is almost certainly the Delta variant, which is fueling 90% of infections currently in New York, with similar numbers in the world and here in Maine.

The Delta variant, the main reason vaccinated people are getting sick now, is not surprising or unusual. Variation happens when a virus has lots of opportunity to mutate and thrive. When a lot of people in the world, and a lot of people here in the United States, are unvaccinated, we have lots of virus circulating. This allows the virus the opportunity to mutate and adapt and develop more “fit” strains — strains that are more contagious and aggressive and deadly to us, their host.

I spend a lot of time talking with patients about coronavirus and reading about it. I spend no time on social media; I do not use Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. I do not watch the news on TV, as I find it biased, and I prefer to read the news from a few simple sources. I obtain my medical information from basically the same scientific sources, modernized, that I’ve been using since 1986.

Let me present some medical facts:

• My daughter now has a one and 1 million chance of dying from COVID-19. If she was unvaccinated, she would have a 1 in 30 chance.

• There is a huge amount of misinformation about coronavirus and the vaccines on the internet. This misinformation could be reworded as mistruths; I will call them lies. Most of this information can be traced to a small group of people, a few of them doctors, who are profiting from this, financially, and with power and fame.

• COVID-19 is not harmless to children. Just under 400 have died in the U.S., and a too-large percentage of those who have mild illness are left with long-term issues.

• Our current vaccines are stunningly safe and effective. Not perfect, but amazingly effective. I am fortunate that my daughter has been vaccinated.

• The vaccines have side effects; all vaccines and all medical treatments do. These side effects are minimal, usually brief mild versions of what you get if you have COVID-19. They pale in comparison to the strikingly similar symptoms that happen, dramatically worse and more often, from coronavirus itself.

• Deciding to never get COVID-19 is not an option, unless you decide to be a hermit, or unless a very high percent of the rest of us are vaccinated.

• Vaccinations are more effective than mask wearing and social distancing, and vaccinations have absolutely nothing to do with politics. Nothing.

• Vaccinations save lives. I am counting on them to save my daughter’s life. They can save your life, your family members’ lives, my patients’ lives, and the lives of others in our community, and in your community.

COVID-19 is preventable. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic.

Please, get vaccinated.

Scott Schiff-Slater, M.D., is a family physician practicing in Hallowell.


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