A call to action from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: The best defense we have against COVID-19 is the vaccine

If you have been watching the news or if you tuned into our media briefing, the message is clear: as citizens, we have a responsibility to protect our neighbors, family, and friends in our community including healthcare workers and healthcare systems in Idaho.

The healthcare workers are stressed. Once again, they are seeing their emergency rooms and intensive care units fill up with COVID-19 patients. This isn’t easy for them, knowing that most of this could have been prevented with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The healthcare systems are also stressed, and in many cases, they are seeking assistance from state and federal resources. The primary issue is staffed beds. There have to be healthcare workers to take care of the patients, and there are not enough healthcare workers to staff the beds available in the state. If healthcare workers are not available, the hospitals cannot take patients.

We are alarmed by the trends we are seeing in Idaho. The Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as the original virus, is currently the dominant strain of the SARS-coV2 virus, and it is continuing to dramatically drive our metrics the wrong way. 

What can we do? We can choose to get the vaccine. We can encourage our friends and family to get vaccinated. We have a responsibility to our children, our healthcare workers, and our communities. Let’s do the right thing.

We know that Idahoans are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic. You may be frustrated with a return to prevention strategies (for example, wearing a mask). However, prevention strategies and the vaccine will help keep your friends, family, and community safe.

We all need more people to get vaccinated in Idaho. If we don’t, the resurgence of COVID-19 and the Delta variant will impact our hospital capacity and our ability to receive medical care, our in-person schooling, our workers and our economy.

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe, and the best defense we have against COVID-19. It will protect you from serious illness and even death.

You can keep up with COVID-19 cases in Idaho on the Idaho COVID-19 dashboard  and vaccines in Idaho on the COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard.

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.  

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