Despite a dramatic decline in new cases since the introduction of FDA-approved vaccines, San Bernardino County is continuing to see outbreaks of COVID-19.
While most of these patients are not experiencing life-threatening illnesses, they still pose a threat to the county’s more vulnerable residents, the county said in a news release on July 7.
“Most of the people we are now seeing are young and in generally good health,” said Rodney Borger M.D., an emergency room physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Colton. “Yet while few face truly life-threatening conditions, many still suffer a variety of unpleasant effects in both the short and long terms.”
Yet Dr. Borger’s greatest concern is that unvaccinated individuals will spread the virus to residents who are older or otherwise vulnerable to serious consequences, or that they might experience long-term effects from the virus. According to the CDC, the most common lasting symptoms from getting COVID-19 are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain and chest pain.
“We have done an excellent job getting our most vulnerable residents vaccinated, and the results can be seen in our dramatically lower hospitalization and death rates,” Dr. Borger said. “However, a substantial portion of our population has declined, or at least delayed, getting a vaccine shot.”
He pointed out that virtually every new case involves unvaccinated individuals, and he said that COVID-19 will remain active as long as a significant portion of the population continues to neglect getting vaccinated.
“Frankly, there is a segment of the population that has simply refused to get vaccinated, including a number of incarcerated individuals,” Dr. Borger said. “There is little we can do about this group. However, there are other county residents who don’t oppose vaccinations on principle but have simply neglected to get a shot. These are the people we are urging to get vaccinated — if only to protect others, if not themselves.”
Dr. Borger said this lingering population of unvaccinated individuals is particularly concerning in light of the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is significantly more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus.
New data released by the California Department of Public Health show 35.6 percent of coronavirus variants analyzed in June have been identified as the Delta variant, which was first identified in India. That represents a dramatic increase from May, when it accounted for just 5.6 percent of analyzed coronavirus cases in the state.
“The Delta variant spreads much more quickly and easily than previous strains,” he said. “Fortunately, the approved vaccines have been shown to protect against it. So, the solution to the problem remains the same: convincing the unvaccinated to invest 20 minutes or so to get a shot.
“Shots are free and easy to come by,” he continued. “Getting vaccinated now requires nothing more than a walk-in visit to the local pharmacy.”
In Fontana, vaccination appointments are available at the Jessie Turner Center (15556 Summit Avenue) Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. for all individuals ages 12 and above who live or work in San Bernardino County. For more information, visit MyTurn.ca.gov.