Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

For COVID-19 Protection

See a Doctor Not A Car Mechanic

No, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the delta variant continues to raise infection numbers and yes, a booster is available for free to any adult and the extra protection is critical to public health and the holidays are here and the cold weather is here, a perfect storm for spreading illnesses.
Add to the mix that another variant has been discovered in southern Africa so I would rather follow the advice of people Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, South African scientist Tulio de Oliveira, and Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School in England, than people like Alex Roman, who owns a car repair shop in Budd Lake.
“With the holidays approaching and the Delta variant continuing to impact the state, all eligible individuals are encouraged to get booster shots as they consider travel and gatherings for the holiday season,” the state Health Department reported.
For people who are not immunocompromised or have other specific illnesses, “their immune protection against COVID-19 may weaken over time. A “booster shot” helps their immune system boost up its defenses against COVID-19,” said the Health Department.
I cite Roman because his attitudes are just a microcosm of the majority Republican view in the area, the state and the nation, attitudes that threaten the national health under the specious claimthat the public’s personal freedoms are being sacrificed by requiring testing and vaccinations.
Roman is a Republican on the Mount Olive Township Council and like any other citizen, he is free to pass all the misinformation he wants about COVID-19, even though he violates his oath of office to protect the health and welfare of residents. Rather than urging residents to get vaccinated, Roman has said that he will “use every option available” to stop the township from mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

This is not about opinions but rather it is all about politics, from the lowest level of government and people like Roman to the highest level of officials like the disgraced former president. It is a mantra being expressed by GOP officials around the state and the nation and playing politics with public health is an explosive abomination.
The fact is that the scientists do not know when or if the COVID-19 will no longer be a threat and anyone who says they know the answer is a charlatan.
CNN reported today that the new B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 has been found in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong and scientists have warned that the new variant “could show immune invasion and enhanced transmissibility.” As a result, France, Britain, Japan and Israel began to ban or order quarantines for air passengers arriving from the southern African region.
In the United States, fears about a new and dangerous variant caused Wall Street stocks to open sharply lower this morning on a shortened trading day. People who invest millions are more likely to follow the facts. Fauci said that banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility” and that officials are collecting data to assess the potential dangers of the new variant.
Officials said they are still trying to determine the origins of the variant and that other cases have been discovered in Botswana and Hong Kong.
“Unfortunately, we have now detected a new variant, which is a reason for concern in South Africa. What we have done is to act very quick,” de Oliveira said at the news conference. “We are trying to identify what we are facing. The main message today is that we have to know the enemy that we fight.”
Even before the latest variant emerged, Europe was already applying new lockdowns and travel restrictions for unvaccinated residents in an attempt to contain a surge in coronavirus cases. Reported deaths in Europe reached nearly 4,200 a day last week — twice the number since the end of September, according to the World Health Organization, which counts 53 countries as part of its European region.
The number of mutations of the new variant and their location have scientists on high alert, fearful that the new strain will be more resistant to vaccines, more transmissible or cause more serious illness in more people, CNN reported.
“This new variant of the covid-19 virus is very worrying. It is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date,” Young, the virologist at Warwick Medical School in Britain, told science journalists. “This variant carries some changes we’ve seen previously in other variants but never all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations that we’ve not seen before.”
In New Jersey, as of last week, 6 million people or 67.5 percent of the population, have gotten two vaccinations. That means that 33.5 percent of the state population has not been fully vaccinated and that is a lot of people whose protections may be falling and who may spread the virus to others. A third vaccination or a booster is recommended to increase protection.

The seven-day average for new positive tests increased on Friday to 1,586, up 31 percent from a week ago and 27 percent from a month ago. The state’s transmission rate rose again Friday to 1.17 from 1.15 on Thursday. Any transmission rate above 1 indicates that each infected person is passing the virus to at least one other person. The state started the week at a transmission rate of 1.0.
Two doctors with the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, Dr. Lisa Maragakis and Dr. Gabor Kelen, explained the facts about the different COVID-91 shots.
A COVID booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot or shots have begun to decrease over time.
“Typically, you would get a booster after the immunity from the initial dose(s) naturally starts to wane. The booster is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer,” the doctors said.
The CDC recommends a COVID-19 booster if you are 18 or older and:
Received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.
Received both shots of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago.
Individuals who have a medical condition associated with immunosuppression are eligible to receive an additional vaccine dose.
An additional dose, originally called a third dose, is given to people with moderately or severely compromised immune systems to improve their response to the initial vaccine series. The term “third dose” was used to refer to additional doses for the two mRNA vaccines, but now the term is “additional dose” because those who received a J&J “one dose” may also be eligible for a dose based on their immune systems.
A COVID-19 booster is given when a person has completed their vaccine series, and protection against the virus has decreased over time. People should review the booster eligibility information and talk to their health care provider for more questions.
An additional dose is administered to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.
The CDC and the FDA recommend an additional dose if you:
* Have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
* Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
* Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years, or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
* Are diagnosed with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
* Are diagnosed with HIV and have a high viral load or low CD4 count, or are not currently taking medication to treat HIV.
* Are taking drugs like high-dose steroids or other medications that may cause severe suppression of the immune system.
People who are immunosuppressed and originally received the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, can get an additional dose when it has been at least 28 days since the second shot.
Those who got the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, can get an additional dose when it has been at least two months since the last vaccine.
People can mix and match brands. The FDA has authorized three vaccine boosters — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson — and determined that it is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster or additional dose that is a different brand than the initial dose or doses. Those who get the Moderna booster, will receive half of the original Moderna dose.
Yes, it is complicated and for more information or questions, please, please talk to your doctor or visit the CDC webpage, rather than relying on the opinions of non-doctors and auto repair mechanics.
On his Facebook page, Roman responded to a local newspaper editorial that criticized him for pandering to personal freedom for political reasons. You could replace his name with any of the many Republicans with similar unsupported views.
“You may call my approach ‘faux’ patriotism, I for one am tired of policy making using faux science,” Roman posted. He was not specific about what he considers to be “faux science” but said that it is a personal decision whether to be vaccinated or not.
“Your contention that I’m prioritizing, what you refer to as ‘so-called personal liberties’ over the life and death of the residents is not just missing the point but goes against everything I have said publicly,” Roman said. “I have on numerous occasions, in Council meetings and on social media, told residents to get vaccinated especially if they are over 30 or have any underlying health conditions that would greatly increase their chance of serious illness or death if they were to get Covid.”
Sorry, Councilman Roman, your advice about personal choice for testing or vaccinations can only lead to a spread of the virus and you and the other multitude of Republicans must bear the guilt.
Mayor Robert Greenbaum had initially planned to require employees to be vaccinated or be terminated. But Roman objected and Greenbaum modified his order to require either proof of vaccination or a test that showed no COVID-19 infection.
“The Mayor’s policy does not take into account whether an employee has already had Covid and has thus acquired a degree of natural immunity,” Roman said. The councilman’s uninformed and misleading comments grossly simplify the relationship between immunity from earlier infections and the need to be tested and his statements just add confusion to the need for vaccinations.
Roman also said the mayor’s plan for full vaccinations without requiring testing goes against CDC advice that “vaccinated people can still become infected and have the potential spread the virus to others.” People who have been vaccinated can be infected and spread the COVID-19 delta variant but the CDC notes that getting a full two doses and a booster can provide greater protection and less likelihood of spreading the virus.
Roman also said the editorial’s attempt at “fear mongering is evident by claiming that folks that choose to not vaccinate themselves ‘run the risk of killing a child, an aunt, a grandmother given certain health conditions.’”
“While any untimely death is of course a tragedy, especially among children, the number of children that have died in NJ due to Covid is 3,” Roman said, although he failed to note the many children and young adults who have become seriously ill from COVID-19.
Roman also rejected the editorial’s claim that too many people have chosen not to receive the full vaccinations.
“As of today, 96 percent of those 65 and older in Mount Olive have been fully vaccinated, while those over 30 are 77 percent vaccinated. This was accomplished without any kind of government mandate. These were people that chose to protect themselves and their families. That’s what I’m fighting for. The right for people to decide for themselves, which apparently, they have,’ Roman said.
Well the councilman’s own numbers mean that 4 percent of those 65 and older in Mount Olive aren’t fully vaccinated and 23 percent of those over 30 are not fully vaccinated. That should be the context of Roman’s concerns and not the phony patriotism that he claims.

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

49 Followers

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer