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Letter to the Editor from Mike Nagowski with Cape Fear Valley

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Dear Community,

I want to take a moment to thank you for all that you have been doing to help keep our community safe. We appreciate all your support and kind words for our healthcare heroes during these unprecedented times. As we go into a holiday weekend against the backdrop of rising COVID cases and stretched healthcare resources, I want to ask you to do one more thing: please remember to remain vigilant regarding your safety.

Throughout this pandemic, like clockwork, we have seen predictable increases in cases after holidays such as this one, where crowds traditionally gather. Friends, if our local COVID cases and hospitalization numbers go much higher than they are already, we will have a very dire time when the post-Labor Day spike comes around.

Remember to wash your hands, wear your mask, keep physically distant in social settings, and above all, get vaccinated if you are not already. If you have not been vaccinated, please do not delay another day! Don’t face the regret that so many of our hospitalized COVID-19 patients have expressed when it was too late, wishing they had chosen to get vaccinated. Around 80 percent of our patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated at all, and those who are vaccinated have other serious medical issues that didn’t allow their immune systems to make the best use of the vaccine. The average length of stay for those who are vaccinated and wind up in the hospital is also much shorter, and they are much less likely to be in the ICU. This shows us that the vaccine continues to perform extremely well at its most important goal: preventing hospitalization and death.

So please do you part to help avoid the post-Labor Day spike from happening. Even if you have been vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask indoors as the Delta variant is so much more contagious. Consider limiting your exposure to large groups of people. If you have unvaccinated friends or loved ones who still have questions about the vaccines, encourage them to talk to their doctor, or suggest they reach out to the many local resources ready and willing to talk to residents about the vaccine, its safety and high efficacy rate against hospitalization and death.

There is some good news for people who have been vaccinated. Cape Fear Valley is currently providing third doses of the vaccine for immunocompromised individuals who are more than 28 days post their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Starting Sept. 20, all people who would like one will be eligible for a booster shot, as long as they are at least 8 months past their second dose of the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine. We expect to hear news about booster shots for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine soon.

Thank you for giving me your attention on this important matter. I hope you all have a happy, safe, and well Labor Day weekend.

Sincerely,

Mike Nagowski