Are you missing life as it was in 2019? There is an answer

Author’s note: If you and family or friends will be at the annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw on Sept. 4 in Prairie du Sac and need either a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you can receive it for free during the event from Sauk Prairie Healthcare (11 a.m.–2 p.m.). And, if you are a Wisconsin resident receiving the first dose, you are likely eligible to receive a $100 gift card. Details on this appear at the end of this article.

It’s time for us all to get vaccinated.

Why? Quite frankly, it is the best way to move us back closer to what life was like in 2019. It’s a way to move our personal lives back to some semblance of — or at least closer to — “how things used to be.” It’s how businesses will continue their recovery and the way to ensure they have the best chance to grow and prosper in the future.

So, let me first start with a question: Did you receive the COVID-19 vaccine yet?

For some of us, we received the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was available. For this group of people, it was as easy as trusting science and having confidence that the vaccination will do what is intended: help protect us, our family, and our friends, as well as protect others in our community by slowing the spread.

Others took more time to research the vaccine before they agreed to receive it. This group engaged in discussions with knowledgeable health care professionals. Then, armed with information, this group agreed that receiving the vaccine was the right thing to do.

For yet another group, there was an obstacle (or several) to overcome before receiving the vaccine. Whether it was ensuring the timing was right to receive it (in case there was downtime from work or daily activity due to a vaccine effect), figuring out a way to receive it due to lack of transportation to a vaccine location, or another challenge, some had to solve some logistical issues before being vaccinated.

None of these paths was the wrong path to take, as in all cases the individual received the COVID-19 vaccination.

However, the path that is not recommended — and I would argue is not in the best interest of our community — is the one where someone with questions (and perhaps doubts) about the COVID-19 vaccine chooses to do nothing.

That’s where I want to encourage anyone with concerns, or anyone believing they just don’t need to get the COVID-19 vaccination, to speak to a health care professional.

It is 100% understandable that for some people, more information is needed and questions must be answered before they receive the vaccine.

For those still on the fence, here is information that many find useful:

  • Vaccines are safe and are not experimental: Far from being experimental, these mRNA vaccines are the result of decades of research. They were tested on tens of thousands of volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds before becoming available to the public. We can have confidence in their safety.
  • Vaccines are vital to slowing the spread: The vaccines available in the U.S. are vitally important in slowing the spread of an extremely contagious disease. If you get the vaccine, you not only protect yourself but you drastically slow the spread of COVID-19 to others in your family, your business, and your community. And with the Delta variant, slowing the spread has become more important than ever.
  • The vaccination is recommended for ages 12-plus: The COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
  • No evidence of fertility problems: There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
  • Pregnancy and COVID-19: Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
  • Pfizer has full approval for its vaccination: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Remember, children 12 years and older can get this vaccination.

And, for those who need another reason to obtain the vaccination, Wisconsin is now offering a financial incentive. A $100 Visa gift card is offered to any person in the state who gets their first dose at a vaccination site in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota between Aug. 20 and Sept. 6, 2021. Reward requests must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CST on Sept. 6. More information is available here.

The Badger State has now shown itself to be very serious about finding ways to help encourage residents to get the vaccination, yet there is still much work to be done. In many communities, vaccination rates are not where they should be. We need more people to step up to the plate.

Businesses are doing their part and taking bold steps to boost vaccination rates. Some large corporations and well-known brands recognize the need for their employees to be vaccinated to ensure they can come back to work and safely interact with customers and other employees. Some companies are highly recommending employees be vaccinated. Others are demanding it.

It’s quite a range of companies with a vaccination mandate — the list is as varied as Google, which at the end of July was the first major tech company to announce a vaccine mandate for its employees returning to the office, and Goldman Sachs. Other companies on this list include Walgreens, Walmart, Disney, Tyson Foods, Ford, and Amtrak, plus many more. Now that the FDA has granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, more companies are expected to follow.

Employers of all sizes can do many things to increase the vaccination rate among their employees.

  • Employers can take a stance to encourage that their employees receive the COVID vaccine.
  • Companies can offer paid time off for employees to receive the vaccine. This also covers any vaccine reaction that occurs and requires an employee to spend recovery time at home.
  • Companies can host an on-site vaccination event for their employees. Some companies have also successfully included the families of employees during these events.
  • Some companies offer a financial award or other incentive, such as bonus vacation days, to employees who receive the vaccine.

Any encouragement that is offered by companies to employees to receive the vaccination is a good thing and will help strengthen business operations both now and into the future. It does, quite frankly, provide a competitive advantage.

The timing of another push to get the vaccine is perfect. Summer is ending and school is starting. Businesses are looking to bring more people back to the workplace and need to do so in the safest way possible.

And again, for anyone who is on the fence about the vaccine — or leaning toward making the decision not to get it — I encourage these individuals to take their good questions and their understandable hesitation to a health care professional to better understand the facts about the vaccines.

Remember, it is more important than ever to do all in our power to slow the spread of the disease. Ensuring a larger percentage of our population is vaccinated is a vital step to achieve this goal.

It is the only way to work our way back closer to the life we enjoyed in 2019.

Here are more details on the upcoming free vaccinations offered during the annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw event:

Sauk Prairie Healthcare administration of FDA-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations

At the Sauk Prairie Healthcare Wellspring location, 80 First St., Prairie du Sac (corner of First Street and Lincoln Avenue, adjacent to Marion Park in Prairie du Sac, the location of the event):

  • Sept. 4
  • 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • There is no fee to receive the FDA-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination
  • Individuals 12 and older are eligible to receive the vaccination
  • No registration is needed — just walk in!
  • Eligible individuals may take part in the new Wisconsin program. The state is offering a $100 Visa gift card to any person in the state who gets their first shot of a vaccine from a Wisconsin provider Aug. 20 through Sept. 6. More information is available here.

Shawn Lerch is CEO of Sauk Prairie Healthcare.

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