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Column: Do your part — get vaccinated

VCU Health's Dr. Art Kellermann, Bon Secours' Dr. Mark D. Townsend and HCA's Dr. Jake O'Shea urge readers to get the COVID-19 vaccine in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch column.

An aerial shot of VCU Health in the foreground with the Richmond downtown cityscape behind it.

On Sept. 4, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a column by three Richmond-area health system leaders, including Art Kellermann, M.D., senior vice president of VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health System. A portion of their remarks can be found here. Get the facts on the COVID-19 vaccine by reading the full column at richmond.com.

By Drs. Art Kellermann, Mark D. Townsend and Jake O'Shea

Virginia’s hospitals want you and our commonwealth to be protected from the delta variant.

The heroes on our health care teams have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for 18 long months. The decrease in cases we saw this spring provided a needed reprieve, but now, with the arrival of the delta variant, we are witnessing another surge.

The delta variant is distinctly different from last year’s virus in a worrisome way. We have seen it spread throughout Virginia, especially where vaccination is low. Virginia Department of Health data shows that nearly every case of COVID-19 is caused by the delta variant. It is sending an alarming number of young, healthy Virginians to the hospital, including children and pregnant women. Some are becoming severely ill, requiring ventilators.

Sadly, this surge is tragically and unnecessarily costing many lives.

We say unnecessarily because we now have a tool we didn’t have last year: safe and highly effective vaccines that provide tremendous protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant. In addition, these vaccines greatly reduce your risk of hospitalization and death in those rare cases in which you develop a “breakthrough” infection.

Currently, around 57% of our commonwealth’s population is fully vaccinated. That’s not enough to curb another wave of COVID-19 this fall. Our moment to fight back against the virus is now. This battle can be won if we each do our part by getting the vaccine.

This column continues on richmond.com.