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Member Column

by Jim Greer

LW contributor

As I approach retirement, I reflect on the years I spent in marketing and sales with a sense of déjà vu. During the early years of my career, one of the tactics that businesses and news outlets used to effectively influence customers and news audiences was FUD— Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Spreading FUD is a commonly used tactic to build anxiety. For business, it’s a way to drive customers to make quick buying decisions. For news outlets, it’s a way to drive the populous to keep listening, watching or reading, exposing the growing audience to more advertising messages.

In the current climate, FUD is being used to drive a variety of narratives. One narrative is that COVID-19 vaccines are invasive and dangerous. Another narrative is that the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is infecting the vaccinated as “breakthrough” cases.

According to the CDC, a “breakthrough” case is when a person tests positive for COVID- 19 at least two weeks after becoming fully vaccinated. As older adults we have understandable fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding our susceptibility to this pandemic. But, if we look deeper into the numbers, we realize that we have very little to worry about.

In a July 28 article from the Cleveland Clinic, it was stated that “while the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at delivering immunity, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. But another goal of vaccination is preventing serious illness. And in that regard, the COVID-19 vaccines are successful.”

The article went on to explain that the incidents of breakthrough cases are so rare and so few that, according to infectious disease expert Dr. Steven Gordon, “The numbers are so low that the CDC is now primarily focusing on those breakthrough cases that result in hospitalization or death,” says Dr. Gordon. “And that number is incredibly small.”

According to the CDC fewer than 0.005 percent of fully vaccinated Americans have experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death. So, while it is highly unlikely to experience a breakthrough case or symptoms, the odds of serious illness for the fully vaccinated are minuscule.

The delta variant’s rapid spread among the unvaccinated only emphasizes the importance of getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 immediately. “The vaccines that are available here in the United States are effective against all variants of concern to date, including the delta variant,” says Dr. Gordon.

Robert Louis Stevenson suggested, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” Throughout the pandemic, we have seen our neighbor’s cast aside FUD and show courage through action, blessing the lives of the most vulnerable through acts of service and compassion. We all can reject the purveyors of FUD and expose it for what it is—a propaganda tactic used to control the hearts and minds of the fearful.

If you have been vaccinated but still don’t still feel safe, the Golden Rain Foundation and Dr. Gordon suggest you keep wearing masks. “You can cut down on those risk factors by wearing masks, especially indoors with other people around,” he says. “But the bottom line is still to make sure, first and foremost, you get fully vaccinated.”

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