Congressman Tom Cole

Congressman Tom Cole

In recent weeks, our country has experienced an alarming uptick in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious than initial strains that spread widely and first caused the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Indeed, this variant seems to be rearing its ugly head across America largely among those who are unvaccinated, with most cases of hospitalizations and deaths among those who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccination. Considering how easily accessible vaccines are to Americans, this is not how it should be in our communities.

Remember, Operation Warp Speed, initiated by the Trump Administration, allowed the United States to partner with talented researchers in private pharmaceutical companies to scale up development and deploy safe and effective vaccines, free to every American over age 12, in a matter of months by bypassing bureaucratic red tape that typically keeps medicines waiting for years for review. By no means was this accelerated and record time turnaround a result of cutting corners or ignoring the existing safety standards required by statute.

Indeed, building on two decades of work in similar vaccine platforms, from research and development to clinical trials to granting emergency use authorization, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remained compliant in every phase of research and development. And now, both Pfizer and Moderna are seeking biologics license — or full FDA approval — for the vaccines they developed, demonstrating even more supporting evidence of their efficacy and safety.  

Regrettably, however, even while these vaccines were under rapid development last year, some began spreading misinformation and causing public doubt about their efficacy and safety. The unfortunate result of this misinformation is that millions of Americans remain unprotected from a disease that is now within our collective power to stop.

Throughout history, vaccines have played a vital role in ridding our world of dangerous and deadly diseases and viruses, such as smallpox and polio. When more people choose to get vaccinated, they not only protect themselves, but also at-risk individuals, including our own families, friends and loved ones. Put simply, vaccines save lives. A key and familiar example includes annual flu shots, which prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every single year. 

This pandemic proves no different, and it requires each of us to fully eradicate. Unlike some countries around the world, America has the means to fight and defeat this virus, including any variants that emerge. While this process does not happen overnight, by getting vaccinated we have the power to keep up the momentum toward normal rather than undo progress made over the last several months.

If you are able to receive a vaccine, like I did earlier this year, I urge you to do so. And if you have any lingering questions, please do not wait to schedule a conversation with your trusted health care provider.

Congressman Tom Cole represents Oklahoma's Fourth Congressional District, which encompasses Norman, Ada, Ardmore and Lawton. 

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