More than 161 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated as of July 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of the fully vaccinated, there have been 5,914 individuals in 49 states who have tested positive for the coronavirus and been hospitalized or died. Of all of these breakthrough cases, 1,141 (19%) have died, 292 of which were asymptomatic, and the deaths were not COVID-19 related.

Hospitalizations and deaths are not the whole story, however.

For efficiency purposes, on May 1, the CDC shifted its breakthrough infection study from all cases to only tracking hospitalized cases. As of April 30, the CDC recorded 101 million fully vaccinated individuals with only 10,262 cases of fully vaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19.

So, what does all of this mean?

Because patients who experience serious COVID-19-related symptoms typically end up at a local hospital, it can be assumed that the CDC’s statistics are a good barometer of how well the vaccines are working.

In short, out of the more than 161 million fully vaccinated people, the CDC is hard pressed to find more than 849 deaths related to COVID-19 among fully vaccinated individuals.

Over 99% of COVID-19 related deaths are among the unvaccinated, and 97% of COVID-19 related hospitalization are among the unvaccinated.

Furthermore, when vaccinated patients are admitted for COVID-19, they typically do very well. They almost never land in the ICU or need a ventilator.

Basically, the vaccines are incredibly effective and are protecting human life. At this point, any debate about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines is ridiculous.

They protect life, prevent symptoms, and there are very few infections among the fully vaccinated. The data is more than clear at this point.

Since my first coronavirus article published on Good Faith Media back in March 2020, I have always advocated for two things.

  1. Follow the science and obtain reliable data.

Do not take what you hear from commentators on CNN or Fox News as the gospel of health care. Read the reports for yourself.

While the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration need to communicate with the public better, the data is out there if you just look for it. The CDC’s website is filled with COVID-19 reports.

Good decisions about health care, public health and medical ethics always start with facts. You are the person who is ultimately responsible for your health. Please go read the data for yourself.

  1. Health decisions, whether treatment- or vaccination-related, are something that you personally need to discuss with your physicians.

Everyone is different and has unique medical needs. For example, I know folks who are immunocompromised, and a COVID-19 vaccine might not be right for them.

A decision to take the vaccine should be based on good scientific data and a cost-benefit analysis discussed with your primary care provider to determine if it is more likely that COVID-19 will cause you harm or the vaccine’s side effects will cause harm.

All medical interventions can have harmful side effects. In the case of oncology patients, one must decide if the possible benefits of chemotherapy will outweigh the risk from the harmful side effects.

Vaccines are no different. We each, with the help of our physicians, need to put the benefits and possible harm on a nonpolitical objective scale and weigh them.

With that being said, for the average, healthy person with no major underlying medical conditions, the weight of the evidence is firmly in favor of getting a COVID-19 vaccination. The piles of emerging data reveal that, for the vast majority of adults, these vaccines are safe, and they save lives.

So far, the CDC has recorded three deaths that might be related to blood clots that occurred after those individuals received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This needs to be weighed in comparison to the over 610,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19.

If you need more evidence, just look at the states with the lowest vaccine compliance rates.

My home state of Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccine compliance rates in the nation, with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, the state is also seeing its infection and mortality rates rapidly rise and flood the state’s hospitals.

The Mayo Clinic provides an interactive map of vaccine compliance by state which, along the John Hopkins coronavirus resource center maps, clearly reveals that southern states have a low vaccine rate and are almost all seeing a spike in infections, hospitalizations and deaths while the rest of the nation is seeing these numbers drop.

The evidence is out there, and the risk of death and illness from COVID-19 can be mediated with a simple vaccine.

It is time to set fear and politics aside and follow the numbers. Healthy adults have run out of excuses to avoid vaccination.

President Joe Biden was correct when he said, “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”

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