Many Young, Healthy People Still Need to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– While the number of San Bernardino County residents getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to climb with nearly 60 percent who have had at least one shot, young people ages 18 to 49 are the largest group of people who aren’t lining up for their shots in enough numbers.

The County’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard shows:

  • 55 percent of county residents ages 18-34 not vaccinated
  • 45 percent of county residents ages 35-49 not vaccinated

Rodney Borger, M.D., chair of the emergency department at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, hears the mantra “my body, my choice” and while he agrees that is true, he says young and healthy people should feel a responsibility to protect others in society, particularly with the highly contagious Delta variant.

With previous variants of COVID-19, one infected person infected two to three other people. Now with the Delta variant, a person with COVID-19 can infect up to six people.

“If you are vaccinated, the chance you are going to get infected and transmit it to other people is much lower,” Borger said. “The reason a young and healthy person gets immunized has to do with decreasing transmission. The reason you are taking the vaccine has something to do with more than just you. You have a responsibility to older folks, to people who have diabetes, and people who are more susceptible. You can choose not to get vaccinated, but people forget sometimes their choice can affect others.”

Even young and healthy people without underlying conditions have landed in the hospital and need help breathing with oxygen and sometimes a ventilator, which is hard to recover from, Borger said.

“Just when you think it is mostly affecting older folks, you see a run of young and healthy folks in their 30s and 40s,” Borger said. “Most of them have some sort of regret.”

Borger recalls stories of those who didn’t take the opportunity to get vaccinated. For instance, an unvaccinated patient who lost an immediate family member to COVID-19 now finds themselves fighting for their life in a local hospital intensive care unit. A patient who got COVID-19 and infected her unvaccinated adult daughter, who now must quarantine.

“The daughter said she just didn’t have time to get vaccinated with work and everything,” Borger said. “The vast majority of the unvaccinated we are seeing in the hospital are not anti-vaxxers, they are people who just haven’t got around to it.”

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended pregnant people get vaccinated to protect themselves from the virus because data shows they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to those who are not pregnant.

In San Bernardino County, more than 2,000 people who were pregnant contracted COVID-19 and one woman who was 32 years old died from the virus in July 2020. Her baby survived.

After going through the winter COVID-19 surge and coming through it with the hope of vaccines in the spring, Borger and other health care workers now find themselves feeling pandemic fatigue, a feeling made more frustrating by the availability of vaccines, but not enough people doing their part to get them.

“You feel a little bit like Charlie Brown where he is kicking the football and Lucy is pulling it away,” he said. “Just when you think you are done with COVID, it rises up again.”

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