Mask mandates are being lifted in cities and towns across the U.S. and more employees are transitioning from remote work at home and returning to their offices, so people are wondering: Are we nearing the end of the pandemic?

While no one knows the answer to that question, it’s certainly promising to see COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropping significantly. Sadly, the number of people dying in the U.S. because of COVID-19 is still about 1,000 people a day on average.

As we see pandemic fatigue in our health care teams and in our communities, it’s important that we stay strong on both offense and defense in our COVID-19 response.

That means we need to keep communicating about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine and booster — the best “offensive” tools we have. Research and data show that being vaccinated prevents serious illness, hospitalization and death. Yet some population groups, including children ages 5–11 and pregnant people, have relatively low vaccination rates.

Sharing reminders on “defensive” COVID-19 strategies with our patients and communities is just as important. This messaging may include recommending that people consider avoiding large, crowded events and places unless the venue requires masks, proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test. Keeping COVID-19 test kits readily available for use at home is another good defensive measure.

To support health care teams, the AHA continues to post COVID-19 vaccine videos, images and resources. Teams can download shareable videos and graphics, many in English and Spanish. A new video features a pediatrician — and new mom — from the West Virginia University School of Medicine answering questions about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children and pregnant people.

In creating any game plan, we must know which strategies work. Studies show that the majority of Americans trust their own doctors and caregivers for the most accurate information about vaccines and COVID-19 in general.

At Henry Ford Health System, the organization I lead, our team regularly posts content with recommendations and information from our front-line clinicians, social workers and other health care professionals. About a week ago, our team published a blog on “How to Ease Back Into Life After the Stress of COVID-19,” which touches on offensive and defensive measures to keep protecting people against COVID-19.

Although no one knows if we’re near the endgame of COVID-19 or not, we have the teams, tools and strategies to prevail.

Wright L. Lassiter III
AHA Chair

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