In early March I finally had my turn to get the shot. As I lined up outside the Hagerty Center I was pleasantly surprised - in and out in 25 minutes. That included all the paperwork and waiting time after I received the vaccine. mRNA vaccines are new but they have been known about and studied for decades. They were long recognized as a preferred way to deliver a vaccine in part because of their ability to handle some mutations. Unfortunately they were too expensive to manufacture and distribute so the idea just sat on the shelf.
That is until the pandemic. When the country was put on a war footing, with virtually unlimited funding, the opportunity opened up to make them available. Now that the cost barrier has been broken we have access to new and better vaccines. The benefit could be as revolutionary as penicillin and comes at a time when it was beginning to look like virus's and germs would regain the upper hand.
Herd immunity is now within reach and the 70% number has been bandied about but I believe 80% would be more effective. Herd immunity is based on antibodies and there are only two ways to get them. Get a vaccine or get the disease. I know many young people have forgotten the scourges and deaths that were the result of smallpox, diphtheria, polio, scarlet fever and gangrene. My family has experienced all of these and we only need to look back 5 generations to see it.
Up to now covid costs have been borne by insurance companies and the government with no patient liability. That will not remain the case. In only a few months deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket maximums will begin to apply. Someone who has symptoms and tests positive should plan on at least 2 weeks of lost wages. Set aside about $1,500.00 so you can have groceries and a roof over your head. If you end up hospitalized it will only take 2 days to run through your deductible and out-of-pocket limit on most plans. Plan on another $6,900.00 there. All told relying on the sickness to give you immunity will expose each person to almost $10,000.00 in potential costs. It may be higher for families or couples. The average cost for a patient hospitalized for Covid is $317,000.00. This is more than even serious coronary bypass surgery.
The unseen cost is the toll it can take on heart, lungs, kidneys and brain health. Life expectancy has been shortened and it will be decades before the full impact is known. Weakened systems may take years to fail so those costs are kicked down the road. In 1902 at the age of 7, my grandmother lost all her hair when she had scarlet fever and diphtheria at the same time. She recovered and her hair came back - but the heart murmur was with her the rest of her life and was her eventual cause of death over 70 years later.
Everyone will eventually play a part in herd immunity. The question is how much are you willing to pay for it?