My View with Dr. Rina Bansal: Neighbors help neighbors by getting vaccinated

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My View with Dr. Rina Bansal: Neighbors help neighbors by getting vaccinated
Dr. Rina Bansal
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Remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?”

As healthcare workers, we think about this rule quite a bit. If I was sick and in the hospital, how would I want to be treated? We work to make patients’ experiences the best they can be by not only providing excellent medical care, but also by treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves.

So how does this relate to the COVID-19 vaccine? One of the reasons I hear most often about why people do not want to get the vaccine is that they think they don’t need it; that if they did get COVID-19, they would survive it or that they already had it and are fine now.

And yes, they could be right – in fact, I hope they are! A healthy person can get COVID-19 and survive, and if you have already had it, you may still have the antibodies to stay safe for a period of time.

But what about your community? It may not be readily apparent that a family member, friend or neighbor has an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk for hospitalization or even death from COVID-19. Your choice to not get vaccinated isn’t just putting you at risk; it can impact many others around you.

In this wonderful community where neighbors help neighbors every day, there’s no better way to help than to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As a member of this community trusted with the care of the most vulnerable, I got the vaccine not just for my health, but for that of my neighbors. I am treating others as I want to be treated myself.

For those who are hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and for those who think they don’t need one, I say this: Don’t think of getting a vaccine as only protection for yourself, but also as protecting your vulnerable family, friends and neighbors who might not be able to fight off COVID-19 if you happened to give it to them.

We are fortunate: COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend. But there is no guarantee that this will continue. Variants are emerging from all over the world and can bring us back to where we started. Remember strained hospital resources and overworked healthcare workers?

This community stepped up in ways I will never forget to show their gratitude to my colleagues in healthcare at a time when we needed it. We cannot forget that time, but more importantly we should learn from that period.

The COVID-19 vaccine gives me the peace of mind to know that we will have the beds, staff, PPE and other invaluable resources to care for our community members when they come to us with strokes, heart attacks, physical trauma and other emergencies. The only way we make that possible is through your commitment to get the safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine from your healthcare provider.

The time is now to make a commitment for your health and the health of your family, friends and community. We all want to return to safely spending time with our older relatives, enjoying live music, going to sporting events and eating inside restaurants. Herd immunity through majority vaccination is the best way to defeat this pandemic that has dominated our lives, economy, jobs and our fun for far too long.

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and safe. Hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the world have received the vaccine already. The vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history and they are held to the highest standards.

For more information on how to sign up for a vaccine and on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit Inova.org/vaccine, cdc.gov or vaccinate.virginia.gov.

The writer is president of Inova Alexandria Hospital.

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