by Chris Symolon, Director, COVID-19 Vaccination Project, Foundation for Healthy Communities, New Hampshire
Welcome to 2023, a new year, a new start, a reset!
I have been reflecting on the past two and a half years of the COVID-19 Pandemic. How quickly we forget where we were and how far we have come. We no longer maintain six feet of social distancing, or consistently wear our masks. Do you remember waiting in line to enter the grocery store, being directed which way to enter and exit the aisles, and the never-ending quest for toilet paper? Yes, we have come a long way, but there is so much more we can do.
In New Hampshire, we have lost 2,924 community members so far. We have become numb to the numbers and forget that each person who died is someone’s beloved family member, a friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance, a neighbor.
Many people in our communities are still reluctant to get vaccinated and we need to take a community approach to improve vaccination rates. I’m the Director of the COVID-19 Vaccination Project with the Foundation for Healthy Communities, and I support New Hampshire Hospitals in developing and implementing engagement strategies that promote COVID-19 vaccinations. These strategies have changed frequently as vaccines have been approved and the variants have changed. One strategy that has remained is the community approach to increase vaccine confidence through education and outreach.
We need to dispel the myths and the misinformation around vaccine safety and efficacy. We need to show empathy, compassion, and support for those who are hesitant and learn why. We need to remember and mourn those we have lost during the pandemic.
A resolution we all should consider is to get vaccinated and encourage our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to do the same! Covid-19 is not going away and, just like the flu, we will continue to have new variants to deal with every year. I hope by the fall of 2023 we have a yearly vaccine for COVID-19 and that it becomes a standard vaccination offered at our physicians’ offices.