National Immunization Awareness Month has new meaning: Get vaccinatedAug 25, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention holds National Immunization Awareness Month every August to highlight the necessity of vaccination for people of all ages. With the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant surging and vaccination rates stalling, we urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We commend the 3.2 million Coloradans who are fully vaccinated and celebrate the efforts of the hundreds of vaccine providers across the state tirelessly working to get doses of the vaccine into people’s arms. But, many Coloradans still need to be vaccinated if we are to reverse the state’s surging COVID-19 pandemic.
As science-based, community-oriented organizations, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Colorado School of Public Health have recently updated our COVID-19 policies, recognizing that widespread vaccination is the best strategy for ending the pandemic.
We are also using the reach of our institutions to make a difference with vaccination in Colorado. In collaboration with Denver Health and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the Museum held a vaccination clinic on Aug. 15 and will hold a second on Sept. 5 for those needing their second dose. Together, we offered thirty presentations for the public on the pandemic, starting from its first months. On Aug. 26, the Colorado School of Public Health, the Museum and the Institute for Science & Policy are hosting a COVID-19: Vaccine & Variant Update webinar to discuss the latest vaccines and variants (especially Delta) and to examine what is known about breakthrough infections and efforts to bolster vaccines to keep pace with new mutations. We are committed to helping the public sort through the changing picture of the pandemic and to make decisions that will protect everyone—family, friends, classmates and co-workers.
Public health involves inspiring individuals to take actions (like getting vaccinated) to create a collective good that benefits everyone. Now, we seek to reach a level of vaccination that will slow the pandemic, a goal that we can achieve. Study after study has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective and safe with benefits far outweighing any risks. Vaccination is the leading and best strategy for ending this global health crisis and returning to living our lives freely. Vaccination needs to reach globally if we are to stabilize economies and protect the vulnerable billions in the world’s poorer countries. The CDC’s July 27 Science Brief on Vaccines and Vaccination is a good resource for more information on these studies.
Science can do amazing things – the COVID-19 vaccines among them, which were developed at an extraordinary and lifesaving pace. Vaccines are not a political matter, but a science and public health issue. As hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to rise and the vast majority of COVID-related hospitalizations are among unvaccinated patients (98.8 percent in Colorado), now is the time. If you are not yet vaccinated, we urge you to do so for your own health and for the protection of our communities.
Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, is the dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. George Sparks is the president & CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.