As the United States continues to return to normalcy post-COVID-19, the number of fully vaccinated people across the whole country is at around 66 percent. But when you look geographically, rates have been all over the map. For instance, as The Charlotte Observer reported in April 2021, in Mecklenburg County, NC, only about 22 percent of residents were vaccinated — which was lower than surrounding counties and the state rate of 29 percent. Thankfully, the rest of the region has since caught up. Compared to this April, we are now at 67 percent for our county and 60 percent for the state.
The way people think about the vaccine influences these rates.
There generally are two camps here. In one camp, you’ve got people who worry that the vaccines are too experimental, haven’t been studied enough, and are being haphazardly given out under too much political and social pressure. In the other camp, you’ve got people who point out we don’t have 25-year info on most other medicines or vaccines, either (which is true). They want everyone to get their shots over with because they see vaccination as a way to protect the community.
Could mandatory vaccinations be in our future?
Currently, whichever side your opinion is on, you’re entitled to free choice. But in the future, the government might mandate that everybody gets vaccinated, the same way they’ve done for other diseases like smallpox. We’ve had other governments require proof of vaccinations and/or proof of having a PCR test to enter their countries before, and that might become the case with COVID-19, too. Given the newness and lack of long-term data, governments and their respective health agencies have given information that the media may have unintentionally distorted.
Whether you support the COVID-19 vaccines due to your own conscience or just want to get out ahead of what possibly may be mandatory, we’ve got to continue to ensure the vaccines are easy to get at scale in our community.
What can small businesses do to help the efforts?
Small business practitioners who have had some medical or health training and believe in the vaccination effort, such as dentists or chiropractors, are in a great position to continue to encourage vaccination. These are professionals that people know personally and trust as friends. They can keep everyone updated with information easily and explain important data about the different vaccines and the manufacturers that produce them.
The flurry of volunteering to assist with the efforts to help communities increase their rate of vaccination seems to have declined, but that is by no means a reason not to help get current information out and to gently encourage others to get their vaccines at this point. Despite falling COVID numbers, we shouldn’t forget what happened to the world in April of 2020. Though the CDC has updated its mask mandate, it may still be prudent for those who feel uncomfortable to continue to wear them. And, participation in local efforts is still of interest and needed. One can reach out to organizations like the local Department of Veteran’s Affairs and other federal and state organizations to see if there are any upcoming events where individual skills would be useful. Many non-MD healthcare providers such as myself have helped out in this effort: Dr. Steven Ghim Answers Call to Meet COVID-19 Challenge, Assists With Vaccinations
When small business owners in the field of healthcare who believe in the vaccine and the vaccination effort engage with their communities, they can potentially boost the number of people who see vaccines positively and actually get them. With many communities doing this at the same time, we may see a larger downward curve in COVID case numbers.