August 30, 2021
It is Back-to-School time, which this year marks a return for many students to their classrooms and in-person interactions with friends and teachers. For many families, this is a joyful homecoming after so much time away from in-person learning. However, rising COVID case rates and a slowdown in vaccinations over the past few months, means that the pandemic looms large over these early days of school. Already, in their first weeks, colleagues’ children have been sent home following school-based exposures to COVID in the classroom.
In California, school personnel must show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week. This is a necessary public health order to keep our children healthy and our schools open for learning. Health care personnel are also required to be fully vaccinated by September 30.
In some communities, these vaccine requirements have been met with broad acceptance and agreement. In others, there is anger and protest. I find the latter response troublesome. Shouldn’t we be focusing on the larger threat of the virus, variants and community spread? Rather than wasting anger on whether to mask, or on who is and who isn’t mandating a vaccine? Can’t we work together to share information about what works – and what doesn’t – to stop the spread of this deadly virus – once and for all?
Vaccines remain our best hope of ending the COVID pandemic. Every new vaccination gets us closer to a post-pandemic reality. It’s that simple.
If you are vaccinated, reach out to friends and family who have not yet gotten their vaccines and share information on why they should consider it. COVID vaccines are safe, effective, and free for all aged 12 and up. Help fight all the myths and misinformation. Despite growing public misconception about the effectiveness of the vaccines against the Delta variant, the truth is that all three vaccines in use in the U.S. are protective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Studies have found that vaccines were 85%-90% effective in preventing asymptomatic COVID infections among health care workers.
We are in this together. We won’t find our way out of this pandemic unless we work together. Today, what should be a sensible, public health debate about controlling contagion has become a divisive, misguided argument that is more about concern over money, power, and politics, rather than preserving the sanctity of human life.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. So, let’s continue to show up and live our best lives every day, practice common sense, follow public health guidance – without waiting to see what someone else might think or say or do about it – and keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy. Thank you.
Henry N. Tuttle
President and Chief Executive Officer