AMDS doctor encourages Airmen to get COVID vaccine

  • Published
  • By Col. (Dr.) Hans Otto
  • 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Commander

When I was a young boy growing up in Waynesville, Ohio, I remember telling my father that his smoking was bad for him. He agreed and took another puff.

A few years later, I was sitting in the front seat of our family station wagon with my mother and told her she should wear her seat belt. She said it was very uncomfortable and difficult to get used to, but she was happy that I was wearing mine.

A few years later, I was working at Miami Valley Skeet Club (now a suburb of homes off Bunnell Hill Road) as the youngest club manager ever (16) and I encouraged and provided ear plugs for all employees and members when on the shooting range.

I recognized early in life that I am a pain-in-the-backside know-it-all but prefer to think of this as an “early adopter” and advocate for public health.

Fast forward a few decades, and I find myself a private business owner, allergist/immunologist specialist in Cincinnati metro and commander of 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, as well as a continued advocate for public health who uses the best validated, cutting-edge advances and best practices to help make other’s lives better.

Currently, that means encouraging everyone who is eligible to get their COVID vaccine.

As a wing, we are doing better than many other wings and the U.S. military as whole in getting COVID vaccine to our people. However, we still need to do better to win this fight…and we all have to do our part.

The hesitancy to get vaccinated has many contributing factors. Some think that vaccines are new or the mRNA vaccines are experimental.

There was a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine that discusses the history of vaccinations, progress in biology and vaccine development and their impact on public health. Smallpox is estimated to have killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century (1901-2000) alone. However, the first vaccine was in 1796 by Dr. Edward Jenner, who found that infecting milk-maids with cowpox protected them against smallpox. It was not until a global public health effort in the 1970s, 200 years after discovery, that smallpox was eradicated.

Louis Pasteur in 1885 inoculated a 9-year-old boy infected with rabies and saved his life. In 1937, the Yellow Fever vaccine was developed, the 1940s led to development of the Polio vaccine, and many others. Some of these diseases we rarely hear of anymore and that is thanks to vaccinations.

Since late 2019, we have seen COVID spread across the globe and as of April 2021, COVID killed more than 550,000 Americans with about 60,000 hospitalizations daily. With more than 180 research institutes and 100 companies worldwide involved in vaccine development efforts, every strategy that has ever been used to make vaccines has been advanced against COVID.

The newest development of mRNA vaccine stems from hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge about infections, genetics, and vaccine development. The advantage of mRNA vaccines is that with current technology, these can be developed quickly, safely, and very effectively.

The safety and effectiveness has been proven in phase III trials and more data since has shown this as well. There are some side effects but very few in the civilian population and even fewer in our military population have any medical reason not to receive the vaccine.

Does anyone remember what our Air Force mission was before COVID? You could certainly reference the National Defense Strategy for details but put simplistically “To Fly, Fight and Win… Airpower Anytime, Anywhere.” Please continue to do your part to support and defend this country from enemies foreign and domestic, including our newest pandemic viral enemy.