Most adults have seen the iconic movie “Jaws” during their lifetime. At one point during the movie, Quint, the shark hunter, reveals that he was on the Indianapolis, a WWII ship that was torpedoed, sending its large crew into shark-filled waters.
Quint describes the scene as exhausted survivors finally being rescued after treading water for days while watching sharks take their shipmates.
“You know, that was the time I was most frightened,” he explains, “waiting for my turn.” This might be how many of us feel as we wait our turn to be vaccinated, hoping not to be gobbled up by COVID-19 in the meantime.
Pandemic fatigue. For those anxiously awaiting the vaccination, it feels a little like treading in shark-filled waters while we wait for rescue. But it’s important not to give in to pandemic fatigue. While many of us are tired of wearing masks and hand sanitizing, the increased use of masks and hand sanitizer, along with a flu shot, has kept thousands in our community from contracting the flu this season as well as helping to contain the spread of COVID. Continuing to follow pandemic best practices until at least 80% of us are vaccinated and the community spread levels are low is still our best opportunity to return to “normal” sooner rather than later.
Pandemic depression and exercise. Pandemic fatigue can bring with it an attendant rise in depression, in all ages. More and more research keeps pointing to the role of exercise in combating depression. In a recent study, three major universities found a dramatic rise in depression among college students during the pandemic, finding disruptions to physical activity as a leading risk factor. Those who maintained their exercise habits, however, were at significantly lower risk for depression. Other research has shown that younger children who are more physically active are happier.
If you need help getting motivated or working exercise into your routine, here are some tips from experts:
• Make a plan. If you are not sure how to fit exercise into your schedule, log how you spend your time each day so you can see where exercise might fit in. It’s still effective if you exercise in 15- or 20-minute intervals, three or four times a day.
• Find something you enjoy doing. Research has shown that people who enjoy their physical activity have a better chance of sticking with it. Walking around your neighborhood or dancing for a half hour to your favorite tunes counts.
• Find ways to make it social. To stay safe but social, join a virtual exercise class. Many gyms are conducting former in-person classes on Zoom. LNKTV Health YouTube channel has great free exercise classes for every age. You can make it a family activity by encouraging your family to be active with you.
A different kind of 'wait.' While many are anxiously awaiting their turn to get vaccinated, others are choosing to wait for various reasons – continuing to tread in the COVID waters.
Historical distrust. The American Medical Association has acknowledged that systemic racism in medicine has fueled a distrust of the medical profession and accounts for much vaccine hesitancy in Black Americans. Because COVID has hit Black and Hispanic communities harder with higher death rates and hospitalizations due to underlying conditions and health inequities, coalitions of Black and Hispanic physicians and community leaders are coming together across the country to help allay fears by being publicly vaccinated. Similar to the #FightFluLNK campaign for flu vaccinations, which features local community leaders of color sponsored by Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, the Nebraska Medical Association and Bryan Health have launched similar COVID vaccination campaigns to address distrust.
Vaccine misinformation. COVID and vaccine misinformation abounds on the internet, causing confusion and fear. For factual vaccine information and answers to frequently asked questions, visit healthylincoln.org/covid-vax-info.
Here are other important facts about the vaccines from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC):
• The vaccines do not alter your DNA, cause infertility or cause you to contract COVID;
• The vaccines are not made from aborted fetal cells and do not include preservatives.
UNMC answers more questions at nebraskamed.com/COVID/the-covid-19-vaccine-fact-vs-fiction.
Vaccines and pregnancy. For pregnant women, the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists Practice Advisory states: “Pregnant and lactating women who otherwise fit the criteria for inclusion in the high-priority population can be vaccinated alongside their non-pregnant peers based on shared clinical decision-making with the patient and her clinician.” UNMC adds, “Data suggests that a pregnant woman who develops a COVID-19 infection is likely to become sicker than a non-pregnant woman who develops a COVID-19 infection.”
Vaccines and underlying conditions. UNMC recommends that immunocompromised people get the vaccine. If you have concerns or a specific question related to your personal condition, they encourage you to speak with your doctor before getting the vaccine. The CDC provides information at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/underlying-conditions.
Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health (LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov) bring you Health and the City, a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues and spotlights the local organizations that impact community wellness. Direct questions or comments to email@example.com.