Editorial: As Covid lingers, vaccination best defense

There’s a feeling of deja vu in Ely, and not in a good way.
For a second straight year, November has meant more than deer camps and Thanksgiving in the 55731 zip code. Joining those late-fall staples, both last year and again in 2021, has been a sudden and substantial increase in positive cases of Covid-19.
A virus that appeared to be on the ropes if not on its way down for the count this summer has fought back and connected with more than a few punches in recent weeks.
Case counts have spiked in town and at the school, our hospital has admitted Covid patients and a death has sent shockwaves while driving home the point that the virus is no hoax. Odds are by now you know family members, coworkers, friends or neighbors, probably many of them, who have felt the impact of Covid-19.
Yet this November is clearly not same as 2020.
For nearly a year, we’ve had a potent tool to combat the harshest effects of Covid-19, if not diminish the chance we’ll get stricken with the virus in the first place.
Cut through the political noise and the hullabaloo over mandates and demands for more stringent mitigation measures and there’s an indisputable fact - one that has been pointed out in previous Echo editorials, letters signed by local professionals and in countless news reports here and elsewhere:
Vaccines work.
Amid the current surge in Ely and across the state, we feel it’s best to harken back to a point that’s been driven home - not only by doctors nationwide but our own physicians in the Ely area: vaccines are by far the most effective measure to turn back Covid-19.
Don’t just take our word for it. Consider the advice of longtime Ely physician Jim Montana.
“The best way to curtail this epidemic is vaccination,” Montana told the Echo earlier this week.
Montana added there “is NO way to predict who is going to get seriously ill” if stricken with Covid, adding that those young and healthy or old with underlying health symptoms can suffer serious effects, and even death.
But Montana stressed that “vaccination decreases personal risk of severe illness, death and probably decreases risk transmission.”
The data confirms it.
A Centers for Disease Control report in September indicated that unvaccinated individuals are better than 10 times more likely to die or be hospitalized from Covid-19 than those who are fully vaccinated. The same report said vaccinated people are five times less likely to test positive for the virus.
The numbers bear that out in Minnesota as well.
A reported updated Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health mirrors the CDC and says that “fully vaccinated people are also much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated.”
While so-called “breakthrough cases” of Covid-19 occur among those vaccinated, less than three percent of Minnesota’s vaccinated population has tested positive for Covid-19, with only one-tenth of one percent of those hospitalized. The death rates are even tinier - a minuscule 0.019 percent - or one-hundredth of one percent.
It’s clear that those who are vaccinated face far less risk of contracting the virus. And those that do contract it are in less peril of death or serious illness.
Montana made the case for booster injections as well, pointing to “evolving data that indicates boosters are needed in those who have been vaccinated,” and suggested unvaccinated individuals who come down with the virus should later get vaccinated.
Looking to the future, more promising news is on the horizon including anticipated approval of oral medications and IV treatments to combat early infections and thwart hospitalizations and serious cases of Covid-19.
There is, indeed, hope even amid a second dark November, and options readily available that were not on the table this time last year.
In St. Louis County, 80 percent of adults and 95 percent of those age 65 and over have been vaccinated. Overall, 69 percent of those age five and up have had at least one shot.
With each vaccine, each booster appointment, the most severe impacts of Covid-19 are minimized and the virus is knocked back closer to the canvas.
After nearly two years of overzealous overreach and virus politics, it’s long past time for some normalcy and vaccination offers the best and most clear path.
Forget the mandates and passports and simply talk to your doctor. One conversation and one shot at a time, we’ll all be better off as a result.