When I consider how much my life has changed from one year ago, it is truly amazing. I enjoy meals with my friends, at restaurants! I play softball in Town Park without COVID rules that forbid tagging and mandate sanitizing balls between each play. I recently traveled to see my entire family at the beach. It was overdue and so much fun.

I now feel comfortable doing “normal” things because of vaccinations. My friends and my family are all fully vaccinated, and we feel safe going back to the activities we love…..gathering, hugging, sharing laughs.

So is it over? My work life tells a different story.

At work in the Emergency Department, we wear masks to protect patients who may not be fully immunized or are immunocompromised, factors that increase risks for contracting the virus and severe outcomes.

And it’s the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) which is now ravaging our state — and particularly the Western slope — that we’re most concerned about. (Read: Colorado has the 4th highest COVID death rate.)

Rates of infection and hospitalization are rising again, particularly in areas that have low vaccination rates. While our county has had a very successful vaccination campaign, our neighboring counties cannot say the same.

And the reality is this: We rely on the hospitals in our neighboring counties, and they have been remarkably full in the past month. This means that my patient who breaks his leg in the bike park may have to be transported long distances to have emergency surgery if our regional partners are full.

This is happening.

There is good news, however.

COVID vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, even due to the Delta variant. Case in point, last month, less than 1% of those in this country that died from COVID were fully vaccinated (read more here.)

Vaccination works to prevent hospitalization and death due to COVID.....even from the variants.

So, if you haven't gotten your vaccine, or haven't completed your 2-dose regimen, NOW is absolutely the time to do it.

Do it to protect yourself. Do it to protect your friends and family. In this town, we mourn together when there is a loss to our community — just the same we rejoice and celebrate the triumphs together. Let us all do our part to protect each other and put COVID behind us. No one needs to die from this virus.

If you have questions about the vaccine and want to talk to a provider, you can schedule a televisit or a regular appointment at the medical center to discuss.

Here too are some helpful tips for talking to friends and family about vaccinations.

Thanks for listening.