As COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S., the nation is waiting for the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. In response, the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society and American College of Chest Physicians issued the following joint statement:
“COVID-19 has struck more than 14 million Americans and resulted in more than 275,000 deaths. The potential of a safe and effective vaccine against this virus is a powerful opportunity to turn the tide against this highly infectious disease, yet it will require widespread adoption of the vaccine to ensure the public health protections needed to end the pandemic.
“There are a number of vaccines in development and a few close to FDA release for emergency use authorization. The availability and widespread adoption of a safe and effective vaccine holds the potential of ending the pandemic. To further protect the overall population and those most vulnerable, we need a sufficiently high proportion of the population to get vaccinated to stop coronavirus transmission. The vaccine will provide immunity, protecting from COVID-19. However, we need widespread adoption of the vaccine to stop the spread of infection and end the pandemic.
“With the potential of a safe and effective vaccine around the corner, now is the time to begin speaking with your loved ones about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s critical to have these conversations now so everyone is prepared to get these vaccines. The more people who are vaccinated, the slower the disease will spread, enabling our nation to save countless lives and ensuring a safe return to normalcy.
“Tragically, the virus has harmed some communities more than others. While anyone can get COVID-19, some people are more at risk for the most severe impacts of the disease, especially people of color. Compared to white Americans, Black Americans and Latinos are 2.8 times as likely to die from COVID-19 and American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19. Given the disproportionately high toll on the health and lives of these communities, it is critical that Black, Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native individuals are given equitable access to vaccines to protect their individual health and the health of their families and communities.
“Achieving widespread immunity through vaccination will be key to ending the pandemic, but it will take time to get there. Even after a safe and effective vaccine is available, it is critical for all Americans to protect their health and that of their community by continuing to follow public health guidance. This includes wearing a mask, physically distancing and washing hands thoroughly until enough of the U.S. population is vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus. Especially in the midst of the holiday season and the crisis in hospital bed shortages, continuing to reduce the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, physically distancing, and limiting travel and gatherings is critical to saving more lives.”
For media interested in speaking with an expert about COVID-19 and efforts to end the pandemic, contact Allison MacMunn at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.