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Let’s get closer to stopping COVID-19

The Western Tidewater Health District announced on Friday that demand in the 1A and 1B vaccine groups is dwindling and it will be moving into vaccinating people in 1C this week.

That news came less than two days after the Virginia Department of Health urged people in 1A, 1B and 1C to pre-register on the state website in order to have people ready to vaccinate when the state receives shipments of vaccines. The demand in 1A and 1B is beginning to dwindle, the state said. Gov. Ralph Northam also announced this week that anyone 16 and above will be eligible for the shot by April 18.

If you are in 1C or beyond, you should pre-register at vaccinate.virginia.gov. There will be a spot in line for you very soon.

If you are in 1A or 1B, but you have been waiting because you think other people need it more than you, now is your time. Many of those in our area who are at high risk have already been vaccinated, and those who haven’t yet will be very soon.

Once you are pre-registered, you should keep an eye on your phone calls AND your email, if you provided an email during the pre-registration process. Watch for an email from the CDC that invites you to register. You may get an email but not a phone call.

Some would question why people should take a vaccine for a virus that has a low fatality rate. Thus far in the pandemic, 622,339 Virginians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 10,279 cases have proven fatal, giving Virginians specifically a fatality rate of 1.65%.

The way we see it, that’s too big of a risk to take when there are several vaccines available that have been proven to be safe and effective.

Furthermore, the fatality rate doesn’t tell the whole story of the impact of this disease. Many people who have survived this virus — even people who were previously relatively young and pretty healthy — are suffering from long-lasting symptoms that are affecting their lives. Even those who have mild cases and recover quickly are looking at missing work for at least two weeks, have to isolate from their family even within their own homes, and are risking spreading the disease to family and friends before they realize they are sick. Missing work, isolation and the knowledge you may have spread the illness to someone who will not fare as well are not pleasant feelings.

In addition, the more times this virus spreads from person to person, the more chances it has to mutate and potentially become a more harmful and deadly version of itself.

The long-range impact of this virus is also not yet known. As it has only been in the human population for about a year and a half, we do not yet know how it will affect people five years, 10 years or 20 years down the road. Many people who catch this illness may be dealing with the aftermath for decades to come — we just don’t know that yet.

We encourage everyone who is unsure to talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine. The more people who are vaccinated, the closer we are to stopping this pandemic.