Commentary

Do your part to save lives: get vaccinated today. North Idaho health care workers will thank you.

Vaccine mandates aren’t new. We’re required to get vaccines to travel, to attend school, to enlist in the military, and to care for patients as health care workers, writes guest columnist Mike Baker.

September 21, 2021 4:04 am
Dave Lacknauth, director of Pharmacy Services at Broward Health Medical Center shows off a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference on Dec. 23, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In this file photo, Dave Lacknauth, director of Pharmacy Services at Broward Health Medical Center shows off a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference on Dec. 23, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

When our state’s crisis standards of care in North Idaho extended to the entire state on Sept. 16, we reached another critical juncture in this pandemic. Our health care system is overwhelmed. Our health care workers are exhausted. We can no longer view the COVID vaccine as a privilege, or a choice. It is a necessity if we are to ever rise up from this disheartening bottom we’ve hit.

I got the vaccine before it was required because I trust the science, and I see the value it brings to me, my family and my community. It’s not just about me: I knew I needed to get vaccinated to protect others and particularly those more vulnerable than I am.

I know many folks didn’t enter the pandemic with a close personal connection with their health care teams. Information wasn’t always clear in the beginning, and maybe you didn’t feel like you could put full trust in those calling the shots.

But the guidelines are crystal clear now: get a vaccine. It could save your life, and many others. Among Idahoans who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 98.7% are people who have not been vaccinated, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Vaccine mandates aren’t anything new. We’re required to get vaccines to travel, to attend school, to enlist in the military, and to care for patients as health care workers, just as we are required to have insurance, obey traffic rules, pay taxes, and get a license to hunt. Under Idaho’s School Immunization Law, children must be up-to-date on their immunizations in order to prevent diseases like measles and whooping cough that spread quickly in group settings.

Vaccines save lives. Catastrophic diseases like polio and measles that our parents and grandparents lived through are under control thanks to the science that led to the development of vaccines, and the willingness of people to get vaccinated. Older generations saw schoolmates who couldn’t walk because of polio; they lost children to measles and rubella. They didn’t have the privilege of choice that so many North Idahoans are usurping.

Vaccines are not a conspiracy — they are a matter of life or death.

If the vaccine truly isn’t the right thing for you, that’s something you and your health care provider should decide. But before you make assumptions and rule it out, consult with your trusted health care providers and do your part to help save lives.

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Mike Baker
Mike Baker

Mike Baker is the CEO of Heritage Health. He lives with his family in North Idaho.

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