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Help us help you: Get vaccinated and take simple precautions

| September 7, 2021 7:00 AM

To the editor:

We again find ourselves at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 cases across the country are on the rise and Montana is no exception.

Nearly 100 percent of the cases in Montana are now the delta variant. This new variant is proving itself to be much more contagious than the original virus and is spreading rapidly. The large influx of people to the region this past year coupled with significant nursing shortages already were putting a strain on our health care system. With this most recent rise of COVID-19 cases, our regional health care systems are becoming overwhelmed.

We are struggling to find beds in the larger hospitals for our severely ill patients. These are not just COVID-19 patients either. Our own hospital nearly hit its full capacity in recent weeks.

The bottom line is, despite our best efforts, we are running out resources to care for the people in this community.

We need to keep people healthy and out of the hospitals. This is not a battle that we, the medical providers, can win on our own. So we are reaching out to you, our fellow community members, and asking for your help.

Please wear a mask. We know nobody wants to go back to this. But this is a proven method of decreasing the spread of the virus. Even if you are vaccinated, we still ask that you wear a mask. Studies on the delta variant show that vaccinated people can carry high enough viral loads to transmit the virus even when they have minimal to no symptoms of an infection.

Please get vaccinated. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the vaccines. What we can tell you is that they are safe and they are effective. The vaccines are not as good at keeping you from getting the delta variant as they were for the original virus. However, their effectiveness remains along the same degree as many other vaccines we use commonly, like the influenza and the pneumonia vaccines.

They are also just as good at protecting you from getting severely ill — and requiring hospitalization — or dying as they were with the original virus. In short, you may get sick, but you are much less likely to need to go to the hospital or die than if you didn’t get vaccinated.

If you have had COVID-19, we still recommend you get vaccinated. We do not know how long natural immunity lasts or how effective the antibodies your body created are against the delta variant. If you are immunocompromised, a third dose is recommended one month after the second dose for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. We anticipate that booster doses of these vaccines will be available for everyone else starting late September. You can go to www.mtreadyclinic.org to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.

Please get tested if you are sick. All the clinics in town have the capability of doing COVID-19 testing. If you are positive, isolate at home per the county health department’s guidance. This will help to limit the spread of the virus to others.

If you test positive and are considered high risk for complications from COVID-19, you may be eligible for monoclonal antibody therapy. This treatment has been shown to have a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations. Speak with your primary care provider to see if you would qualify.

Lincoln County has a large population of very vulnerable people. This most recent surge in COVID-19 has the potential to have catastrophic outcomes for our community. We are asking for your help to avoid this. Social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask and get vaccinated.

These measures will help us save lives.

Medical staff,

Cabinet Peaks Medical Center