Where I Stand: COVID is still with us and kids are going back to school

By: Mark Satterfield, MD

Plumas County Health Officer

I’m writing this to remind folks to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Fall is on the way and we’re all enjoying the cooler air and crisp nights. But we’ve also got our kids going back to school and we’ll be spending more time indoors. COVID-19 thrives in those conditions and new variants are continuing to emerge. Vaccination is still by far the best way of preventing people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. So it’s time for all us to catch up on our COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, and that includes our kids, too — anybody over 6 months of age.

We are so fortunate to have safe and effective vaccines. They have saved over a million lives in the US since they became available. It’s hard for me to understand why people still decide not to get vaccinated for themselves or their children. Vaccination not only protects the person who is vaccinated, but others they are in contact with as well, including older folks and people with medical problems.

Over 400 people a day are still dying of COVID-19. That’s more than 3 times the number from influenza, and COVID-19 is also one of the top 5 causes of death in children!


In the 200 years since Edward Jenner invented the first smallpox vaccine, countless millions of lives have been saved or improved by vaccines. Indeed, vaccination is considered one of the three greatest public health achievements of all time, the others being clean drinking water and antibiotics.

So our medical scientists have been honing their skills at developing safer and more effective vaccines literally for centuries. And now they have brought us this mRNA technology that has been shown to be so highly effective and safe against COVID-19.

No vaccine is perfect, but science has also given us the tools to accurately assess both the effectiveness and the safety of vaccines by the use of randomized clinical trials and robust reporting of adverse events. No, the vaccines are not perfect, but serious reactions are extremely rare and they continue to demonstrate that vaccination is far safer and longer lasting than getting COVID-19 itself.

I find it helpful to think about the COVID vaccines like seat belts and airbags. They don’t save every life or prevent every severe injury, but they hugely reduce the numbers of both when cars collide. And they were both controversial at one time! Can you believe it? Seat belts and airbags were controversial? And what’s more, COVID-19 is a lot more common than car crashes and can be just as deadly.

  1. So if you haven’t gotten your primary series of vaccinations for COVID, now’s the time to do it. Help us to save lives, maybe even your own. And if you are eligible for a booster, get that, too. Pretty much anybody who hasn’t had a booster this year (2022) needs one. Check with your doctor, your pharmacy, or public health. And the vaccines are safe and effective FOR KIDS, TOO! Not perfect. Safe and effective — at preventing death, hospitalization, long-COVID, MIS-C, and transmission to vulnerable family at home.

Some of you may have heard of an upcoming bivalent vaccine that includes more activity against omicron. Don’t wait for that, it’s of uncertain value at this point. What we do know is that getting boosted now with the current vaccine is important and worthwhile. We ALL need to be fully immunized against COVID — to save lives, heartache, lost time at work and school. Let’s do it. COVID-19 gets a knockout punch from Plumas County!