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March 29, 2021 · OPINION

Volunteers helping us climb the COVID-19 mountain

Stock Photo
By Don Bachmann
Orlean

Barack Obama said, “It is precisely when we are in the deepest valley, when the climb is the steepest, that Americans relearn how to take the mountaintop.”

In this instance, he couldn’t be more right.

There is little doubt that we were in the deepest valley of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the fall of 2020 and the start of 2021; both the number of cases and deaths were continuing to escalate. But, we could also see the mountaintop; the promise of “Warp Speed” was beginning to be fulfilled. It was, however, an immense challenge for state governments and their local medical communities to deliver on that promise.

A friend of mine is a dentist who saw the urgency and volunteered his time and his office to respond to the health emergency. He worked with an impromptu assembled staff of 15 other volunteer professionals to put together a first- and second-dose clinic for Group 1c qualifiers. They primarily focused on first responders and those 75 and older and began their work on January 6, with the arrival of the first doses of vaccine.

The start-up was slow as they had minimal guidance from state and federal authorities. It was up to them to organize and develop the procedures, arrange for the vaccine delivery, administer the shots, prep the space, track those receiving the vaccines and coordinate the second dose appointments.

As they quickly gained experience, they dealt with emerging problems and succeeded in administering more 560 doses on the first day and were only held up by vaccine availability. All first-dose recipients came back for their second doses. And of all the doses given, there was only one adverse reaction — a reaction caused by anxiety in receiving a shot but not due to the vaccine itself.

Those vaccinated were overwhelmingly appreciative of the volunteer effort and felt relief from the stress they were living under. However, of the almost 1,000 who initially qualified to receive the vaccine, there were 35 percent who turned it down for a variety of reasons. But the primary reason was a distrust of drug companies and the government. The taint of politics led to this distrust and, as a result, not all were willing to fully unite in common cause.

This was both surprising and disappointing to the volunteers. They could only hope that the number of refusals would diminish over time as the effectiveness of the vaccine was demonstrably proven. For their part, they would encourage all adults to be vaccinated while continuing to hold clinics. One nurse said, “We have a duty to our patients, families, and ourselves to do everything we can to mitigate this virus.”

We should all be grateful for the dedication and self-sacrifice of our local medical communities and of the countless other medical communities from across the country. Their commitment on our behalf will have a positive impact on the final outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, they will take the mountaintop; it is within their reach.

In today’s world when we are surrounded by negativity and political spin, it is good to know that many of our fellow Americans can rise to the moment and work for the benefit of us all. This is what makes Americans stand apart from the rest of the world; it shows the world who we are as a people.
And so, to all those who answered the call, I say, “Thank you.”
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