When people ask me, why get the COVID-19 vaccine? My response is: “code purple.” For those unfamiliar with the healthcare system lingo, code purple may not mean much. For us, it is a synonym to the hospital operating at maximal capacity. In the last few months, our hospital’s daily census has remained consistently over 100 percent. It would be easy to attribute this directly to the pandemic. However, this does not yet account for the new increase in COVID-19 cases. We speculate it may be due to the postponement of medical care amid the pandemic. My biggest fear is that as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the hospital occupancy will do so in parallel. This risks tipping the scale towards lower quality of care, while contributing to the endless burnout healthcare workers have experienced over the last two years. We have been extraordinarily affected by the pandemic. From working long hours to wearing uncomfortable personal protective equipment, and to carrying the emotional toll of seeing patient after patient dies from this virus. 

The constant need to adapt to emerging knowledge, changes in policies and procedures, the rise and fall of potential treatments … it has been challenging for everyone. Even more so with the public closely watching every topic of conversation surrounding the pandemic. The biggest struggle has been helping them distinguish accurate information from misinformation. Now add the variable of vaccine hesitation to this mix. It is simply defeating. Overall, New Mexico has done an outstanding job, with 58.6 percent of the state being fully vaccinated to date. We could and should do better. 

I want to dispel some myths. The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause infertility. It is not a plot from the government to microchip us all. Its risks are not worse than getting the virus. It will not give you COVID-19. It will not change your DNA. It is true that the vaccine does not completely prevent one from getting infected. But the risk is much, much, much lower. In fact, up to four times less likely. The vaccine is hope in a syringe. Hope that we can put this era behind us. It is indisputable that the vaccine protects against death and severe COVID-19 disease. Recent data has showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J vaccines offer protection against the feared Delta variant.

I urge you to please get vaccinated. If not for you, for your loved ones, for your community. To help us decrease the burden of an already stretched healthcare system. To help us remember what it is like to not always be living in code purple.