Written by Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDP, Public Health Promotion Specialist, Greenwich Department of Health
Connecticut has been exemplary in terms of getting COVID vaccines into the arms of people since the vaccinations began. It is a triumphant public health success that was made possible by the joint efforts of our full public health system and our State and local government.
We can now see that our sacrifices and restrictions have not been in vain. Our overall numbers in Connecticut as a whole, however are not the be-all and end-all of our safety rating.
Connecticut’s eight counties are unique and their individual COVID risk-rates are quite varied.
Fairfield County has consistently ranked poorly along with Hartford and West Haven (Governor Lamont’s Daily Briefings). While Connecticut overall has declined in risk level from Red Alert to Orange Alert, this merely means that based on our numbers of new cases per day, per 100 thousand people, we have dropped from being over 25, down to 22 (see chart insert). This moved us in mid-April from being in “Uncontrolled Community Spread” to being in a state of “Escalating Community Spread.”
So what can alter our downward trajectory? This would be the COVID variants, the numbers of people in our area who choose not to mask or remain socially separated or to get vaccinated. As of yesterday, 36.6% of people in Connecticut were fully vaccinated and 53.5% have had one dose. Connecticut has administered 82% of our received vaccine doses (NPR, 4-26-21 How Is The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Going In Your State?).
NPR also tracks hospitals by county in each state using uniform measures to assess hospital stress based on their numbers of COVID patients and where they are being treated in the hospital. Click here for NPR article.
In Fairfield County, Bridgeport and Greenwich Hospital were rated at high stress levels; Danbury, Norwalk, Stamford and St. Vincent’s Hospitals rated at moderate stress levels. Those fully vaccinated, even if they become infected or re-infected, will not end up in the hospital, in ICU beds, or dead, so what does this show us? Who is lying in those hospital beds, in ICUs, or dying from COVID-19 in and out of our hospitals? Our hospitalization rates have been declining, but our death rates are still increasing each day. We average 8 coronavirus deaths per day in Connecticut.
As a vaccinator, a contact tracer, and a public health community educator I provide programs across Connecticut. I repeatedly hear the misinformation people have about COVID and about vaccine safety.
Many fear mRNA vaccines believing they are too new, were rushed, or will impact their DNA. These remarkable vaccines have been studied and in process for over 10 years. No COVID virus, or any virus, is in an mRNA vaccine. You cannot get COVID or any viral infection from them because there is no virus in them. Your body is tricked into thinking you have COVID and you create a strong antibody response.
Nothing ever enters the nucleus of your cell or your DNA contrary to what many wrongly believe. If a mutant variant takes over, mRNA vaccines are easily modified. The Viral Vector Vaccines, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca use a weakened/deactivated non-COVID-19 virus that causes your body to develop antibodies. This is similar to other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine. J & J has been proven safe!
The potential muscle aches, fever or short-lived flu-like vaccine side effects lasts a day or two. This is far better than the possibility of ending up struggling to breathe in the ICU. Getting side effects actually tells you that the vaccine has directed your system to create the antibodies you need to fight off COVID-19.
Please get your vaccines. Save yourself from symptomatic or asymptomatic long or short-term COVID.