Getting a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t just about you — it protects others in your life

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On Aug. 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in people 16 and older. As what we know about COVID-19 evolves, so could the information contained in this story. Find our most recent COVID-19 blog posts here.

Some people are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine because they don’t believe their risk of having severe symptoms is very high. 

As a pulmonologist who sees many of our COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, I would say that this position is more than just risky — it’s a decision that affects others.

The dangers of delta

Currently, about 95% of our country’s COVID-19 cases are caused by the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. This variant is different from previous strains in that it’s much more transmissible, and it’s also putting more young, healthy, fit people in the hospital. Some of these patients without any underlying conditions have even died. 

But 97% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the U.S. right now are unvaccinated. Whether you’re young and healthy or you’re older and/or have underlying conditions that increase your risk for severe disease, the best way to prevent a serious case of COVID-19 right now is to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines can reduce virus spread

We are finding that, with the delta variant, even fully vaccinated people can become infected with the COVID-19 virus and spread it to others.

However, fully vaccinated people are less likely to become infected and less likely to spread the virus to others on top of being significantly less likely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms that would require hospitalization.

Because the vaccine reduces your likelihood to pass the virus to others, getting a vaccine can help protect people around you — especially those who do have underlying health conditions that would make it harder for them to recover from severe disease.

Getting immunized is important to being a good citizen

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is similar to getting vaccinated for other diseases in that it’s as much about protecting your community as it is about protecting yourself. 

Perhaps your immune system is able to handle a measles or flu diagnosis without threatening your life. But if you contracted one of those diseases and unintentionally passed it to your 90-year-old grandmother or to your newborn niece who’s too young to be vaccinated, would they be able to fight the virus as easily? The same concept can be applied to COVID-19.

This is not just about you and your ability to fight disease in yourself. Help your brother. Your neighbor. In order for us to control this pandemic as a society, those who are eligible and able to get a COVID-19 vaccine need to get one as soon as possible.

To find a vaccine location near you, visit

Jonathan Parsons is a pulmonologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and director of the Ohio State Asthma Center. He's also a professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and serves as executive vice chair of Clinical Affairs in the Department of Internal Medicine.