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COVID-19 vaccines key to a better 2021

Optometry Times JournalMarch digital edition 2021
Volume 13
Issue 3

Vaccines and variants are top of mind

As I write this, I am going through the Georgia Department of Public Health’s daily coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) status update.

The website updates every day around 3:00 PM and gives metrics such as total number of infections in Georgia, total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19; total number of tests administered; percent positive test results broken down by test type; rolling averages for infections over the past 2 weeks (which I think is more meaningful than the total number); and daily averages for infections, testing, percent positives, and deaths.

I am encouraged by the moving averages I have been seeing for the past several days—the number of new infections and the percent positive test results have been steadily declining. Looking back at the different “humps” on the curves, it is evident that Thanksgiving hit us pretty hard with new infections. Christmas looked as though it hit us even harder, but new infections and hospitalizations are steadily declining.

This is encouraging, but we need to keep these numbers on the decline and COVID-19 on the run. As the weather warms up in the coming weeks, more and more Georgians will likely be getting outside more which is a huge plus for being able to socially distance and breathe air that hasn’t been recycled.

Vaccines and variants

Another point worth making is the fact that more and more people are getting vaccinated. As I write this, over 2 million doses have been given across the U.S. each day for the past several days—compared with several hundred thousand just weeks prior.

Now, of course, we are faced with yet another COVID-19 reality check: the new variants of the virus. I am no virologist, but I do know that viruses mutate. The influenza virus is a prime example of this. We get new influenza vaccines each year, and we know from past experience that some years are better than others. I am confident that with more and more people vaccinated, it is possible that we can stay ahead of these variants, especially if new vaccines come out with a bang.

The key to us having a better second half of 20/21 (or “20/20+1)—as it is becoming known in optometry)—seems apparent: Get more people vaccinated, continue to wear masks when out, continue to socially distance, and practice good hygiene. The only new addition is vaccinations.

We need to keep our foot on the gas with vaccinations, and I urge the powers that be to open up vaccinations to more people sooner than they are planning as more doses become available.

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Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
Scott Schachter, OD
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