The pandemic fatigue is real.
So many of us followed all the health and safety guidelines, got vaccinated as soon as we could, and are ready to move on to post-pandemic life. However, due to the new, highly contagious delta variant, cases are surging again around the U.S., especially in states with low vaccination rates.
We need to keep doing our part to take care of each other, and people around the world — here’s how:
1. Get vaccinated
The data is clear: all of the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at protecting you and your loved ones from the coronavirus. In measuring the side effects of both, scientists say the risk in getting COVID-19 is far greater than the risk associated with getting vaccinated.
Currently, around 95% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated — and 99% of those who have died from the virus were unvaccinated. There are “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated — because vaccines aren’t 100% effective — but symptoms are much milder and rarely result in hospitalization.
If you have concerns about getting the vaccine, your questions are valid! But make sure you act on them: Schedule an appointment to talk through them with your doctor, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 resource center for helpful information, or seek out information from experts in infectious disease and/or public health.
While we don’t recommend getting all your information on social media, there are some infectious disease experts who use social media to help communicate complex ideas. We’ve learned a lot from Laurel Bristow, MSc and Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS on Instagram.
Plus, Dolly Parton endorses the vaccine. And America loves Dolly.
2. Be a vaccine advocate among your friends and family
Because COVID-19 is a global pandemic impacting the entire population, individual action alone can’t bring an end to it — we have to take a community-based public health approach. We have to consider others and be good neighbors!
The good news is, most people who aren’t getting the vaccine aren’t conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers. If your friend or family member has legitimate questions or concerns about the vaccines, that’s okay! They deserve to be listened to — forcing it on them, or judging their choice isn’t helpful.
The New York Times put together an interactive vaccination chatbot to walk you through the best ways to listen, be a resource for, and encourage your loved ones who are hesitant about the vaccine.
And if you want to learn more about why a public health approach matters, read this article about the delta variant from Ellie Murray, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.
You may come across people who have received some misinformation surrounding the vaccine. The News Literacy Project compiled a helpful guide to combat misinformation in general, and related to the vaccines:
3. Help people around the world get vaccinated
The WHO reported more than 4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally — more than 80% of them to high- and upper-middle income countries, though they account for less than half the world’s population.
The pandemic can’t “end” until the entire world has equitable access to vaccines — not just wealthy, well-resourced countries. Without it, there will continue to be variants, which will spread around the world, even to highly vaccinated countries.
Contact your elected officials to ensure the COVAX global vaccination program gets the doses and funding it needs.
4. Wear a mask when you’re indoors or unable to socially distance
The world got a slight reprieve from mask-wearing as the vaccines proved highly effective in stopping the spread of the virus. Now, however, the delta variant is proving to be much more contagious and life-threatening than past strains of the virus.
In order to protect others who may not yet be (or in some cases, are unable to be) vaccinated, follow the CDC guidelines for wearing a mask indoors, or when you’re unable to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.
Masks are incredibly effective at stopping the spread of the virus — wear one!
5. Take care of yourself and others
The only way we’ll get through this is if we do it together. Keep being a good neighbor by being mindful of:
Restaurant workers — If you’re dining (locally!) in-person, wear your mask when your server comes to your table, and tip at least 20%.
Local businesses — Keep supporting local. Wave or say a masked “hello” to workers, and adhere to shop protocols (if you aren’t sure what they are, ask).
Mental health — We’re still going through individual and collective trauma. Get enough sleep, ask for help, spend time outside when you can — it will help you take care of others, too!
If this guide was helpful, share it on Instagram to help others continue to take care of each other in the the midst of COVID-19, combating misinformation, and working toward global vaccine equity.