It’s not about politics, it’s about your health

Peter Bergmann, Bill Manns, Denise Crawford, Peter Chang, and Paula Termuhlen
From left to right: Peter Bergmann, president and CEO of Ascension Borgess; Bill Manns, president and CEO of Bronson Healthcare Group; Denise Crawford, president and CEO of the Family Health Center; Peter S. Chang, MD, president and CEO of Grace Health, and Paula M. Termuhlen, MD, dean, president, and CEO of WMed.

As healthcare providers, we care deeply about our patients, their families, and our communities. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been on the front lines caring for those who have contracted COVID-19.

Now, months after safe and effective vaccines have become available to all Americans ages 12 and up, we are alarmed to see the virus’s devastation beginning all over again.

In the last few weeks, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have risen in every state in America, largely due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

How does this affect you and your health? It’s simple.

If you are fully vaccinated, the risk to you is low. The COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, and while there have been some breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, they remain rare, and the majority of such cases are mild or asymptomatic.

However, if you are unvaccinated, the risks have never been greater, for two reasons.

First, the Delta variant has been shown to be 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) first identified in the U.K. — and that variant was itself 50% more transmissible than the pandemic’s original coronavirus. The real-world implications of this are that you’re much more likely to be infected if you come into contact with someone who’s sick now than you were at the start of the pandemic.

Second, most states and municipalities have lifted mask mandates and capacity limits in crowded places, which means that if you’re unvaccinated and you’re out and about in the community, the chances of you coming into contact with a highly contagious sick person are pretty high, particularly if you are around a lot of unvaccinated people. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended on July 27 that everyone mask up while indoors in places where the infection rate is high.

In southwest Michigan, we are seeing an increase in infections, and at our healthcare institutions, we are working hard to care for those who are being admitted to our hospitals with COVID-19.

But here’s the thing: Almost 100% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths since June have been among unvaccinated residents. Serious illness and death as a result of infection with COVID-19 are now almost entirely preventable.

Our patient care teams have been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to save lives. But despite our best efforts, we’ve lost colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors to this terrible virus. We can’t afford to lose any more members of our community, especially not you.

Please, get vaccinated.

Peter Bergmann
President & CEO
Ascension Borgess

Bill Manns
President & CEO
Bronson Healthcare Group

Denise Crawford
President & CEO
Family Health Center

Peter S. Chang, MD
President & CEO
Grace Health

Paula M. Termuhlen, MD
Dean, President & CEO
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine