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The inconvenient truths of unvaccinated Maryland health care workers | READER COMMENTARY

Keren Rodriguez, 21, of Severn, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Maryland National Guard Captain Andrea Campbell at the Back to School Summit and Vaccination Clinic held at FedEx Field. The event, coordinated by the Vaccine Equity Task Force with the Maryland Department of Health and Prince George's County Health Department, included speakers, free backpacks and other souvenirs. August 17, 2021. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun).
Keren Rodriguez, 21, of Severn, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Maryland National Guard Captain Andrea Campbell at the Back to School Summit and Vaccination Clinic held at FedEx Field. The event, coordinated by the Vaccine Equity Task Force with the Maryland Department of Health and Prince George's County Health Department, included speakers, free backpacks and other souvenirs. August 17, 2021. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun). (Amy Davis)

The Sun’s recent article, “Maryland to require hospital, nursing home staff to get COVID vaccine” (Aug. 18), names Sept. 1 as the date by which health workers “must get their first dose of the vaccine” or “submit to regular testing.” This report and other reports omit key information the public, as well as the as-yet unvaccinated workers, should know.

First, you are not protected by the vaccine for at least three weeks after your first dose at which time you have partial protection. You should submit to regular testing until you can be regarded as protected. Second, if you refuse the vaccine and you test positive in mandated testing, undoubtedly with the highly contagious delta variant, you will have to quarantine at home and everyone you have been in recent contact within your health care setting (potentially hundreds) should be notified to quarantine until they have been tested and declared uninfected.

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These inconvenient truths embody the essential principles that public health measures have relied upon for generations: assure adequacy of vaccination and assure contact tracing and quarantining when a highly contagious organism is present in the community.

Randy Barker, M.D., Baltimore

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The writer is a professor of medicine emeritus at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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