For the past year and a half, our nation – and the entire world – have been dealt a massive blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtually everyone has experienced various hardships, whether it’s loss of a loved one, loss of income or a small business being shut down. As we’ve moved through the different stages of the pandemic, several things have become abundantly clear: masks, social distancing, and shutting down businesses and schools are not the answer to beating this virus.
Thankfully, President Trump’s administration got to work in the earliest days of the pandemic to expedite the process of developing, testing, and approving a safe, reliable vaccine. While there is some confusion about the vaccine remaining under emergency use authorization rather than full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the truth is the vaccine went through rigorous testing and approval steps before the first shot was administered. More than 160 million fully-vaccinated Americans are proof the vaccine is safe, effective and the best tool we have to fight COVID.
Well over 600,000 Americans have died of COVID, and we cannot afford to lose one more person to this horrific virus. Right now, Alabama is among several states seeing a massive surge in hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID. Our health care system is being overwhelmed by this surge which is largely preventable – unfortunately, 96% of Alabamians who have died of COVID since April were not fully vaccinated.
I’ve talked to countless people who are hesitant, or outright opposed, to getting vaccinated. I understand this is not a decision any person should take lightly, and I fully support a person’s freedom to make important health care decisions without being mandated or forced by any government entity. The decision whether or not to get vaccinated should be between you and your doctor.
If you are on the fence about the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to a trusted health care professional to discuss the benefits of getting vaccinated. Please do not seek medical advice from the internet or social media because there is so much unreliable information out there.
When I was eligible for the shot in January, I sat down with my doctor to get his advice. He explained why it was crucial for me to get vaccinated, so I got it as soon as I could. I’m glad I got the vaccine, and I encourage you to consider getting it as well.
Let’s put this COVID-19 pandemic behind us once and for all.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.