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Vaccination Initiative Update - Shawn Lerch CEO Sauk Prairie Healthcare

Transcript: I want to share some important updates on our collective effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the global pandemic.

The increase in positivity rates, community spread, and low vaccine rates clearly show there is still vital work to be accomplished if we are to attain our shared goals.

Currently, there is real concern around the rapid spread and prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the nation. The spread is linked to the highly transmissible Delta variant which is a mutation of the original virus. This new variant is affecting all age groups and is beginning to overwhelm hospitals, specifically in areas with low vaccination rates.

However, there is hope because the current vaccines have demonstrated they remain highly effective in protecting us from the known variants. This high level of protection though cannot be guaranteed as the virus is allowed to spread and mutate.

The solution is clear, our country needs more people to receive protection by getting vaccinated. I will stress this includes even those who have previously contracted COVID-19.

We know the vaccines are effective. But are they safe? I can confidently tell you, though there are risks associated with any vaccine, the adverse effects are extremely rare with the authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The safety data on these vaccines is strong as evidenced by over 655 million people now becoming fully vaccinated around the world. The U.S. has now fully vaccinated over 161 million people, nearing 50% of our population.

Wisconsin, we have fully vaccinated over 2.8 million individuals which is also nearing 50% of our population. The south-central region that Sauk Prairie Healthcare serves is also nearing 50% and that is 675,000 people fully vaccinated in our surrounding counties.

But it's not enough. The surge in positive cases is the direct result of a highly transmissible variant, specifically infecting those unvaccinated. Recent statistics show over 98% of those being hospitalized are not vaccinated. This speaks directly to how effective and safe the current vaccines are.

Understand, we have a unique moment in time where the world has the right tool in our current vaccines and we can limit the mutations and stop the spread. Otherwise, I fear we will relinquish the fight and COVID-19 will become an annual endemic similar to influenza, requiring booster vaccines and needlessly we accept that an additional 30,000 to 100,000 Americans may die each year.

Choosing to vaccinate is not just about protecting yourself. Becoming fully vaccinated is about protecting the health and wellness of your loved ones, your neighbors, and your communities. It is also about supporting and protecting the vibrance of our local businesses as we move to rebuild our community's economic health.

I encourage anyone with questions about the current vaccines to reach out and talk with you healthcare provider.I also ask that you frequent the website and visit the COVID-19 section where you can find more detailed information and how you can receive your free vaccine.

Please know, I, along with the 640 Sauk Prairie Healthcare team members are deeply grateful for your support and collaboration throughout this global crisis. We cannot claim victory yet, but the successes realized throughout the fight were only realized because of the unified commitment demonstrated through the We, not Me collective mindset.

There are clear reasons to be hopeful, though there is essential work that needs to be done to ensure our communities and businesses remain on a strong recovery path. Thank you for your continued partnership so we can reach our shared goal of stopping the spread and eliminating COVID-19, moving Wisconsin forward.

Be well.