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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 27, 2021

Defeat COVID-19’s surging counterattack: Vaccination is our best weapon

By Chief Warrant Officer Allyson E.T. Conroy

Right now every American has a choice to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because safe, effective vaccines are widely available to combat the pandemic. Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do even though it can be a difficult decision that takes courage. So far nearly 70% of Coast Guard military and civilian personnel have taken this step to protect themselves, their families, and sustain service readiness.

However, COVID-19 refuses to die and is now on the counterattack, creating more virulent variants like B.1.617.2 (Delta) that are much more highly transmissible than before and now are responsible for the vast majority (83.2%) of cases throughout the U.S.  

Cases and hospitalizations are accelerating in 90% of the U.S. and are mostly impacting unvaccinated personnel. The three COVID-19 vaccines that are approved for use under emergency use authorizations (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are safe and highly effective against the Delta variant. Although there have been a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who have gotten sick from COVID-19, their symptoms are less severe than those who are unvaccinated.

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge again, there is a risk of more fatalities. Further, the longer COVID-19 rampages the greater the probability that it may produce additional variants as the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates.  

Rising cases within the Coast Guard workforce and our families will degrade operational readiness while placing greater stress on our shipmates who need to fill in for those who are sick with COVID-19.

“As mirrored in our national population, we are seeing that a large majority of the Coast Guard COVID-19 cases diagnosed are among those who are not vaccinated,” said Capt. John Iskander, Coast Guard Chief of Preventive Medicine and Population Health. “Increasingly, people will have a choice between being vaccinated and getting COVID. And vaccination is far and away the safer choice. It has been a difficult year and a half for all of us. I encourage you to help us climb out of the trenches of the pandemic and get vaccinated.” 

“Yes, this Delta variant is something to be concerned about,” Iskander said. “The science shows that once you are fully vaccinated – two weeks from your final dose – all of the vaccines currently authorized in the United States are effective at combating this strain as well as others that we have seen circulating. If you have received one dose of the either of the mRNA vaccines, you are highly encouraged to get your second dose. Completing the vaccine series more than doubles your chance of being protected.” 

If you want to get vaccinated, please talk with your supervisor or medical professional who can direct you for your next steps to receive your COVID-19 vaccine. 

Getting vaccinated is the weapon we need to stop COVID-19’s counterattack and for you to protect yourself, your family, and your unit.  

Widespread vaccination remains the way the Coast Guard and nation will emerge from this national pandemic.