This year started off with days that registered the largest loss of life in the history of our country. The COVID-19 pandemic ranks among the greatest public health crises that our country has ever suffered— daily we are losing more people to COVID-19 than we did in the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time of my vaccination, one in 15 Americans has tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus, one in 1,000 has died from it, and these numbers are rising quickly.

Yet I am filled with an immense amount of gratitude as I receive my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine along with my coworkers at Mosaic Medical. I am grateful for the unprecedented amount of funding, research and energy that was poured into the creation of a vaccine to protect our population, and to the courageous tens of thousands of people who volunteered to receive placebo or experimental intervention in the name of the public good.

I am grateful to the 17 million people who received their COVID-19 vaccination before me, and to the generations of citizens who lined up to receive dozens of vaccinations which eradicated previously common diseases so thoroughly that the magnitude of such illnesses is hard to recall. I am grateful to the pharmaceutical and operational staff who made our first vaccination day for Mosaic employees remarkably smooth, and to my co-workers who—based on current data available to us—acknowledged that the personal risks of action are enormously outweighed by the public risks of inaction.

Today my heart was warmed by watching co-workers support and encourage each other in their decision on whether to receive a vaccination, recognizing that while a decision made on logic may be simple, we are still emotional creatures whose choices are guided by more than just risk profiles.

On a personal note, I have lost a family member to COVID-19 following her exposure to an asymptomatic carrier. As part of a low-risk demographic myself, I have always been drawn to obtain vaccinations with the hope of decreasing my chance of being such a carrier. As a living, breathing human, I recognize that I am inherently a risk for the more vulnerable in our community. It is out of respect for everyone in my community that I wear a face mask and minimize social interactions. I am immensely hopeful that by receiving the vaccination, I am engaging in my personal capacity to mitigate risk for others.

While none of us can know the final death toll of this pandemic, all of us at Mosaic Medical are doing our best to make a personal impact. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

As our country struggles to streamline the vaccination production and process for distribution, I would like our community members to know that those of us in health care are doing our best to ensure that our patients and our community have the opportunity to protect themselves and others by being vaccinated as soon as possible. An enormous amount of work is happening behind the scenes to rise to the incredible challenge of this moment with the goal of helping us all return to normal lives and social engagement as soon as safely possible.

It is hard to be patient after nearly a year of unimaginable loss. And until the pandemic ends, I encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask, keep a physical distance from others, wash your hands often, avoid gatherings and stay home when you are sick. These measures have dramatically decreased the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses this year. These actions work, and they literally save lives.

To paraphrase one of my fellow Redmond primary care providers: Here is to all we have lost in 2020 and to all we have conquered in 2020—wishing everyone in our community health, peace and happiness in 2021.

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Dr. Brian Sullivan is the Mosaic Medical Clinical medical director in Redmond.

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