Just a couple of months ago, I don’t think anybody expected the summer to end with another COVID-19 surge, but here we are. The delta variant quickly sent us right back into the heart of the pandemic. I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your hard work and say that I appreciate all you’re doing. It may not feel that way at times because it’s hard to see when this will be over, but know that you’re the rock behind this organization. At the end of the day, it’s not about our buildings or our beds or the name on the building. It’s about every one of you — all 14,000 — that are taking care of patients. You’re truly the miracle workers, and I continue to have a front-row seat to the amazing work you do. I remain in awe every day. Thank you.
I’d also like to use this space to answer a few of the most common questions I’ve heard recently surrounding this recent surge.
Why should I get vaccinated if there’s a chance I’ll catch COVID-19 anyway?
The clinical trials were perfectly clear that getting vaccinated was meant to prevent serious illness and death. The studies didn’t tell us that it was intended to avoid infection. So, yes, it’s possible that you might get vaccinated and you might become COVID-19-positive. But without the vaccine, things can be much worse. If you get the vaccine and you do get infected, chances are it won’t be as severe as it could have been. Vaccination is still something that our clinician scientists believe is the way to go.
I have had COVID-19, so don’t I have the necessary antibodies to prevent another infection?
The clinician scientists know that you do develop COVID-19 antibodies when you’re infected. But it’s not enough — it definitely won’t be enough to protect you against severe disease and hospitalization. So, if you’ve had COVID-19, that does not mean that you shouldn’t also get vaccinated.
Do I still need to wear a mask if I’m vaccinated?
We rely again on the science, which is very clear that masking does help. The masking process will protect people around the person wearing a mask. And we know that the N95 mask protects the wearer of the mask as well as the people around the wearer. We have great confidence that masks are helpful and masks do work.
Of course, within UF Health Shands — as of the time of this writing — face coverings are required in all UF Health facilities regardless of vaccination status. If unvaccinated and working in any area of our UF Health hospitals, physician practices, outpatient clinical facilities or in any clinical research environment involving human study participants, you must wear an N95 mask while in these settings.
I keep seeing things in the media about the monoclonal antibody treatment, Regeneron. Does UF Health Shands offer this treatment?
We’ve used Regeneron for many months. The fact that it’s getting media attention now is fantastic. We want more people to know that it’s available. And we’ll continue to follow the science as new medication comes to the forefront. I think it’s important to point out that Regeneron is a treatment and not a preventive against COVID-19. Additionally, not every person who contracts COVID-19 will be a candidate for the monoclonal antibody treatment.
I am pregnant or breastfeeding, is it safe for me to get the vaccine?
The CDC has come out with strong statements about the safety of the vaccine for women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding. Other national organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have also shown strong support for the CDC’s position on this matter.
Again, we continue to trust those who are experts in these matters and follow the latest guidelines based on scientific data.
In closing, I’d like to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated. If you have not gotten vaccinated, continue to wear face coverings, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. And, again, thank you for all you continue to do.