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Rick Anderson Urges Vaccination in Newspaper Essay
September 07, 2021

The Morning Call – September 7, 2021


Your View by St. Luke’s CEO: This pandemic is unquestionably one of the unvaccinated



The coronavirus pandemic has been unrelenting and has wreaked havoc over the last year and a half throughout our great nation. This pandemic is unquestionably one of the unvaccinated. 


On July 12, there were three patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at St. Luke’s 12 campuses; today, there are 91 patients.


During this timeframe, 94% of our hospitalized COVID patients have not been vaccinated. This lopsided percentage applies to most, if not all our nation’s hospitals. 


This is not a one-day or one-month anomaly; it is an alarming reality. It is an irrefutable fact that after nine months since the introduction of the COVID vaccine, patients who are vaccinated, for the most part, will not experience serious illness or hospitalization. 


I wish our lives could return to normal; however, in the current environment, masking, social distancing and lockdowns will not allow for a return to normal, but the vaccine will.


The current situation related to the COVID virus could also be described as a pandemic of choice, since over 90% of hospitalized COVID patients have made a dangerous choice by declining to be vaccinated. This choice has exacerbated and prolonged this unprecedented pandemic for all Americans. 


This moment in history now requires that we, as Americans, make sacrifices that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents faced during the 20th century, including the Depression and the world wars. The choices we make today regarding immunizations should be viewed through the lens of “What can I do to protect the health and safety of my family, coworkers, friends and neighbors?”


The obvious answer is “choose to become vaccinated.”


At St. Luke’s, our organizational goal is to achieve a 100% vaccination rate for our workforce. Currently, 94% of our workforce have chosen to be vaccinated against COVID.


Recently, we announced that the COVID vaccine would be mandated for all employees at St. Luke’s. Our decision was grounded on science and common “horse sense,” including the input of many of our knowledgeable physicians and experienced leaders at St. Luke’s. 


The development of this vaccine is a modern miracle and a product of American ingenuity and know-how. These vaccines have proven to be remarkably safe after undergoing the most rigorous scrutiny and testing of any vaccines in history. 


Unfortunately, there have been vocal critics of the vaccine. These naysayers, many on social media, have no facts or accountability to support their egregious, misleading statements. 


The naysayers would be better directed to stick to politics and leave the issues of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine to the scientists and physicians who have always been heavily invested in the ongoing health and safety of their patients and their communities. 


Any comments that the vaccines are dangerous and not effective are misleading and not factual. The current vaccine data does not support the naysayers’ views. 


Over the past nine months, there have been 372 million doses of COVID vaccine administered in our nation, while locally St. Luke’s has administered nearly 400,000 doses. Serious adverse reactions have been extremely rare and transient.


Conversely, the impact of COVID in those parts of the country with low vaccination rates are obvious — hospitals are overflowing, and this all too often results in unnecessary deaths. As we have experienced during previous COVID surges, Americans are dying by the thousands weekly. 


Behind each number is a person, and behind each person is an extended network of devastated families and friends. 


The continuing news reports on COVID are heartbreaking. They do not have to be; we have a vaccine that could end this pandemic of the unvaccinated.


Since this pandemic began in March of 2020, our St. Luke’s physicians, nurses and entire workforce have worked tirelessly and courageously on behalf of our community. I am incredibly proud of all the sacrifices of the health care heroes in our community, but I am under no illusion that their sacrifices alone will be enough. 


We need your help. We need all our citizens to become vaccinated.


It is not enough for the St. Luke’s workforce to be 94% vaccinated, or even 100%. Our St. Luke’s family alone cannot make our community safe.


Everyone in our region must join in this effort to become vaccinated. If you are still unvaccinated, I urge you, for your own sake and that of others, to reconsider your choice.


In our Lehigh Valley, let us continue to do our part to protect our children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine and those who are immunocompromised. 


Remember, if enough of us become vaccinated, this virus cannot find a home in us in which to live and reproduce.


Richard A. Anderson is president and CEO of St. Luke’s University Health Network.