By Keith Brill, Andrew Pasternak, Deborah Kuhl and Jay Morgan
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, both abroad and in Nevada. Around the world, more than 1 million people have died. We have had more than 300,000 American COVID deaths and are in the midst of a large third wave. COVID 19 cases in Nevada are at their highest, and hospitals are working overtime to deal with the surge of patients.
We have a new hope: COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines will be the critical step to ending the pandemic. While these vaccines have been developed in record time, this historic accomplishment is actually the result of 15 years of groundwork research by our researchers, scientists, and physicians. Our federal government accelerated development by taking the financial risk for pharmaceutical companies and encouraging pre-approval vaccine production.
The Nevada State Medical Association, Clark County Medical Society, and Washoe County Medical Society strongly recommend that Nevadans receive the COVID 19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
We feel so confident in the COVID 19 vaccines that many of us will be rolling up our sleeves in the next few weeks. The majority of our physicians will be some of the first people to get Nevada’s first COVID 19 vaccine allotment. COVID 19 has taken its toll on health care workers as many have died or have become ill due to the virus. Nevada’s hospitals and health care facilities face staffing shortages as a result. This vaccine will be critical in keeping our health care workers healthy so they can continue to provide essential medical care to Nevadans.
With any new treatment, physicians need to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks for our patients. Now we are doing this for ourselves, and we choose to get vaccinated.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Emergency Use Authorization approval for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. These vaccines provide 95 percent protection in preventing symptomatic infection and also limit severe cases. Throughout the vaccine development, safety was paramount. Amongst the 75,000 people enrolled in the Phase 3 treatment trials, there were only short-term minor side effects. The benefit of these vaccines outweighs the risks.
As physicians, we also recognize the impact COVID 19 has had on students, teachers, businesses, our economy, and virtually every aspect of life in Nevada. Over the past nine months, we have listened to your stories and know how many of you have suffered directly or indirectly due to the pandemic. Having the majority of Nevadans get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to them is our quickest path back to recovery.
With a new vaccine, we fully realize that people will have questions. We also know there is a lot of erroneous information on the internet. We humbly ask Nevadans to ask their local physicians or public health officials for the most accurate information. As fellow Nevadans and members of your community, we are committed to guiding our state through the end of this pandemic. Please trust us to help you.
Throughout medical history, vaccines have been the only successful tool to stop viral epidemics. Diseases like polio, which used to frighten families, have been almost eliminated due to worldwide vaccine efforts. Smallpox is now a disease of the past. Similarly, we have a new weapon in this fight against COVID-19, and it is time to use it.
Please join us in making medical history by getting vaccinated and putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.
Keith Brill, M.D., is president of the Nevada State Medical Association. Andrew Pasternak, M.D., is president-elect of the Nevada State Medical Association. Deborah Kuhls, M.D., is president of the Clark County Medical Society. Jay Morgan, M.D., is president of the Washoe County Medical Society.