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Column: Oklahoma attorney general's vaccine claims 'unconscionable'

Column: Oklahoma attorney general's vaccine claims 'unconscionable'

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Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s recent statements questioning the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy in response to the Biden Administration’s federal vaccine mandate are unconscionable.

They do not reflect current medical evidence nor take into account the professional opinion of health experts throughout the world.

As a physician of more than 40 years, I am disappointed at his lack of understanding of known scientific facts as evidenced in his comments.

Contrary to O’Connor’s baseless claims, the science is clear on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program has substantially reduced the burden of disease in the United States by preventing serious illness in fully vaccinated people and interrupting chains of transmission.

Current efforts to maximize the proportion of the U.S. population that is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remain critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC notes that vaccinated people can still become infected and have the potential to spread the virus to others, although at much lower rates than unvaccinated people.

The risks of COVID-19 infection in fully vaccinated people are higher where community transmission of the virus is widespread.

COVID-19 vaccine safety has been proven through rigorous testing, with two years of analysis and more than 8 billion COVID-19 vaccinations given worldwide.

Safety protocols led the way at every phase of development, including for the long-awaited pediatric use authorization. Researchers continue to monitor the vaccine and will for decades to come as they do for all vaccines with well-established response procedures.

Having more vaccinated individuals in our community also helps protect those who are not able to receive vaccines, including babies, young children and medically compromised individuals. Herd immunity can only occur when at least 70% of our society is vaccinated. There is no ethical way to reach it through higher infection rates.

More disease leads to additional complications and higher death rates — not increased immunity.

Making critical health decisions based on science-backed facts is every person’s responsibility, from those working in the public sector with the authority to make policy decisions, to parents and private citizens.

Refusing to vaccinate for non-medical reasons compromises our ability to function optimally as a community and a country.

The economic toll of the pandemic is significant. Worker safety is a reasonable expectation at every job, and the vaccine is among the precautions the Occupational Health and Safety Administrations recommends.

Undermining health care facilities’ ability to make the vaccine mandatory for medical workers sets our hospital system up to fail, especially in light of frontline workers’ likely exposure to recent mutations.

Workplace tenets should be based on scientific evidence to protect employees and the public.

Patients should consult with their physicians if they have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine or any other immunization. Medical advice should come from medical experts, not social media, hearsay, or others who do not care for patients.

Health information is best obtained from health care providers — not attorneys, no matter their position.

Immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases are one of the most remarkable achievements of medical science for which we should all be thankful.

The facts are simple: Vaccines, whether for COVID or any other illness, have prevented countless cases of illness and death. Telling the public otherwise undermines public health.

Vaccines help ensure our nation’s continued prosperity and security — one person, hospital and business at a time.

Featured video:

"Maybe can you realize that God is taking care of you in the form of a public health nurse with a vaccine in their hand?" says Jeffrey Goodloe.

Dr. Steven Crawford is an Oklahoma family physician who serves as board chair of the Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families and co-chair of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians Legislative Committee.


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