Got my covid reminder and hope other seniors will join me

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A few days ago I went to Accokeek Drug & Health Care, a wonderful independent pharmacy not far from my home in Prince George’s County. My mission: Overcome a long-standing needle phobia just long enough to get that third coronavirus booster.

Matthew Carroll, a pharmacist who deals with vaccinations, told a story while preparing the vaccine.

A friend of his had a ticket to the recent football game between Ohio State and Maryland at College Park but ended up bedridden with the coronavirus. The friend had not received a third booster, which could have helped him avoid an infection or at least serious symptoms. “It was a really bad deal,” Carroll said.

The outcome of the story was that Carroll, who is boosted, got the ticket and enjoyed an exciting game. But the story also served to distract me. By the time he had finished saying it, I had been boosted and barely noticed the hit.

I appreciated the skillful touch. Our region is full of dedicated pharmacists. But that might not last much longer if their workload continues to skyrocket. Many people finally find their doctor after two years and return to the pharmacy with prescription pads to fill.

Another pharmacist told me that people in some of the poorest neighborhoods finally have job opportunities, but often need proof of coronavirus vaccination to work. “I asked a young man why he waited so long to get his first vaccine, since injections are free,” the pharmacist recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “He said the vaccine had trackers in it and he didn’t want to be tracked. So, in addition to giving the injections and filling the prescriptions, we need to take the time to dispel the myths that people get from social media.

Carroll showed me five large containers full of used needles, ready to be thrown away. It was three days of injections.

“We have great participation in the recall program,” he told me. “I’m really proud of our neighbours.

On Monday, outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) said the state was a leader in coronavirus vaccinations – with more than a million residents having received the latest booster since September.

After a poor start to 2020, Maryland has rallied in response to the coronavirus. Mobile speakers ran through the Prince George ad for the free snaps. A “cash for vax” program persuaded more resistants to get vaccinated. A concerted effort by teachers, principals, preachers and community leaders has helped dispel vaccine myths.

Two years ago, elderly people like me, aged 65 and over, paved the way for the first round of coronavirus vaccines. We had a national turnout of approximately 92.4%according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a September KFF surveyonly 8% of seniors said they had received the last bivalent booster, and only 37% said they intended to get this new booster as soon as possible.

And yet, flu season is already here. More than 300 people die from covid-19 every day. The Commonwealth Fund, an independent research group, predicts that more than 75,000 lives could be unnecessarily lost in the United States if more people do not take booster shots.

I remember what Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s outgoing chief epidemiologist, said during a webinar hosted by Prince George’s County last year: Getting vaccinated isn’t just for the personal safety but also for the safety of the community. He echoed that sentiment during a meeting with The Washington Post.

“If you want to prevent mutations from evolving, you need to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Fauci told the Post. “If you have any hesitation or reluctance to get vaccinated, you will never get…that blanket or that umbrella of what we call ‘herd immunity’. ”

By early October, only about 105 million American adults — about 40% of those eligible — had received a third shot of the vaccine, according to federal data. By contrast, more than 70% of eligible residents in Britain had received their third dose.

Carroll said part of the problem is that many people think the pandemic is over. Death rates have fallen significantly, even though more than 11,000 seniors died from the coronavirus in July and August, according to the CDC.

“I hear people say it’s like the flu,” Carroll said. “I tell them not to minimize the flu. It can be quite deadly. They say only a few hundred people die of covid each year. I say, ‘I wouldn’t want to be one of them.’ ”

As the virus continues to mutate, Carroll expects more effective vaccines will need to be developed. New remedies will also be needed for a growing list of covid symptoms and side effects. Although few, there have been substantiated reports of covid-related conditions such as ‘hairy tongues’, ‘purple toes’, mysterious ‘marks’ and ‘sores’.

A day after receiving my reminder, I started experiencing arm pain, muscle aches and fatigue. Uncomfortable, yes. But not as bad as dying.

The good news for the non-vaxxers: if anyone offers a cure for hairy tongue and purple toes, you’ll probably find it on the shelves of your local drug store.

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