To the Editor:
We all want to be free of the misery of COVID as soon as possible.
Overcoming COVID is a team sport. Each one of us has it within our power to speed up or slow down that process for all of us.
As viruses will, the COVID virus has been changing. Sometimes the changes make it weaker; sometimes stronger. The more people sick with COVID, the more chance for the virus to change for the worse. That’s what it’s been doing with terrible consequences around the world.
Right now, virus cases are sharply on the rise, including in Hancock County. The more easily caught and more dangerous variants of the disease identified in England, Brazil and South Africa are beginning to sweep through Maine.
These days, the virus is spreading far most aggressively among people younger than 40. There is a misconception that it’s not a serious danger to young people. It’s not as much of a danger, but this virus has been astonishing in its ability to do long-lasting harm to some of those who are otherwise healthy and have seemingly mild COVID cases. Young people have developed serious, life-changing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and so-called long COVID. And, of course, you could give it to someone older who might die from it. The deaths these days are still mostly among those in their 70s and 80s. Do you want to own the fact that you got it, you spread it and someone else died from it?
There are three things each of us must do to slow the increase and eventually stamp it out of our daily lives. There are no other options that do not involve more deaths, more disease and disruption. Right now the virus is once again taking advantage of our impatience. It always will.
If you think you may be sick, get tested as soon as possible and stay away from all other people. Don’t ignore it. Don’t power through it. At MDI Hospital, we are always there to help you. Call us at our Coronavirus Call Center at (207) 801-5900.
Rededicate yourself, even if you have already been vaccinated, to wearing masks, staying out of crowds, and keeping your distance when in public to help stop the ongoing spread. If you are not fully vaccinated, try to restrain yourself for a bit longer and avoid unnecessary travel. Don’t accidentally help spread the virus around. And if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions.
Get vaccinated as soon as you can. For it to work in the community, a very high percentage of people must be vaccinated. That way, when someone sick releases the virus into the air, the virus will have nowhere else to go. Shots are free for all.
All of the available vaccines will drastically reduce your chances of getting COVID and all but eliminate the possibility that you might be hospitalized or die from it. Everyone older than 16 is now eligible to get vaccinated in Maine and supplies of vaccine are rapidly increasing. (Those 16 and 17 may only get the Pfizer vaccine at this time. Northern Light in Bangor is one place this is being offered.)
MDI Hospital is administering vaccines. Go to www.mdihospital.org/covid-19-vaccine. If you have trouble using the internet, call (207) 801-5011 on Fridays between noon and 1 p.m. for help making an appointment. Or check the State of Maine’s website to learn about all the other places you could get vaccinated: www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.
If you have questions about the vaccine or if you think you may have personal reasons why it might not be right for you, please ask your health care provider right away. All MDI Hospital health care providers welcome your questions.
Let’s get this over with as soon as we can.
Julian Kuffler, MD, MPH
Director of Medical Education, MDI Hospital
Julius Krevans Jr., MD
Chair, Infectious Prevention, MDI Hospital
Stuart Davidson, MD
Chief Medical Officer, MDI Hospital
Nate Donaldson, DO, MHA, FACEP
President of Medical Staff, MDI Hospital