I wish I could convey to you the exuberance of the hospital staff on Wednesday when our covid patient census fell to zero for the first time since late summer.
The experiences of our staff during the pandemic, like many of yours, have really run the gamut of human emotion. It brings a huge smile to my face when I see in staff a sense of relief, hope, and especially joy. I witness similar feelings on the days I work in the vaccine clinic, where I have been fortunate to see many of you. I hope that as we turn this big corner and head toward community immunity, many of you are starting to feel lighter and more hopeful as well.
Here is the incredibly encouraging information I am happy to share with you. The vaccines St. John’s and the Health Department have been distributing in Teton County — to more than 4,000 individuals to date — are nearly perfectly effective at preventing severe illness and death from covid-19.
Please read that last sentence again. This vaccine in our arms is saving lives. As more and more of us receive vaccine in the coming weeks and months, our community will achieve a high degree of immunity. Once we reach that milestone, we can expect that even those small numbers of people who become infected with covid will experience it as a typical flu.
In the meantime, we all need to play a part in preventing this disease from wreaking any further havoc on the health of this community. The continued risk of transmission is significant as more variants emerge that spread more easily. Whether you have been vaccinated yet or are awaiting your turn, it’s as important as ever that you adhere to the precautions that have been demonstrated to work. Wear your mask, social distance, and avoid large groups, particularly indoors.
Paul Beaupré, MD
St. John’s Health