Why I am urging all my patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Shannon O'Hara, MD, FACOG

As a practicing OB/GYN here in Southwest Florida, my top priority is the health and safety of my patients. For that reason, I was vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity. And for that reason, I urge my patients to get vaccinated, too.

The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and have minimal side effects. Vaccination is our best option for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Recently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care, both issued new guidelines recommending vaccinations for all pregnant women. The vaccines have been studied in tens of thousands of pregnant patients and shown to be safe. Pregnancy is a particularly vulnerable time for mother and baby. Contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy can result in severe consequences and symptoms, making vaccination in this group of women especially important.

With the spread of the delta variant, we are seeing a drastic increase in the number of COVID-19 infections locally and across the state, including among pregnant women. The Florida Hospital Association reports that 96% of those hospitalized in Florida with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. So, while you can still get COVID-19 even if you are vaccinated, you are much less likely to experience severe illness.

Now is a more important time than ever to get your vaccine.

You can get your COVID-19 vaccine through local pharmacies or through Lee Health, which is now vaccinating anyone age 12 or older. You can take your children to get vaccinated, too, if they are old enough, which is especially important with kids returning to school.

Let’s work as a community and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated.

And even once you are vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask in public, per the most recent CDC guidelines for areas with high or substantial transmission, which at this time includes Southwest Florida.