Consortium urges everyone to get vaccinated

Chief medical officers from a consortium of Southwestern Pennsylvania hospitals and health-care systems issued a letter strongly recommending everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional CMO Consortium’s doctors said in Tuesday’s letter that “we do not have enough vaccine participation yet to create the collective protection we all seek, protection that will allow us to have more normal lifestyles.”
The consortium reassured those who are hesitant to get the vaccine that each vaccine available, from the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer to the single-dose Johnson & Johnson, “is well studied and offers safe, excellent protection from severe illness.”

The consortium said the temporary pause taken last week with the J&J vaccine to assess a rare – about 1 in a million – potential blood clot issue “highlights the careful nature of our approach. The risk of serious illness, including blood clots or other problems – even in the young – is much higher if you get COVID-19 infection than if you get the vaccine. And, if you skip vaccination, you are much more likely to get COVID 19 and be harmed.”
The letter continues, “Wondering about the safety of any care is wise. That is why we are sharing the evidence, which is clear: These vaccines protect many people and have very little risk – it is far safer to get vaccinated than to get COVID-19.”

The consortium urges people to get a vaccine as soon as possible “to keep you safe and to keep others safe.”

“We have supplies and vaccination clinics ready for you. Go to or contact whichever vaccination provider that is easiest for you; if you have a concern, ask your doctor or call ahead for advice. We want you to be safe.

Please encourage all 16 years old and older in your family and among your friends to get a vaccine. We will get this pandemic behind us if we all finish this last step.”
The letter was signed by members of the consortium, Dr. Donald Yealy, CMO UPMC; Dr. Donald M. Whiting, CMO Allegheny Health Network; Dr. Carol J. Fox, CMO Excela Health System; Dr. Michael Cratty, CMO Heritage Valley Health System; Dr. John Sullivan, CMO St. Clair Hospital; Dr. John Six, CMO Washington Health System; Dr. Elizabeth Dunmore, CMO Conemaugh Health System; Dr. Russell Cameron, CMO Penn Highlands Healthcare; Dr. Richard K. Neff, CMO Indiana Regional Medical Center; and Dr. James Backstrom, CMO Armstrong County Memorial Hospital.

WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital is currently without a CMO after the departure of Dr. Surabhi Gaur at the beginning of the year. Hospital President and CEO Dr. David Hess has also been vocal in encouraging vaccination in all who are eligible.


By –  Karen Mansfield – Reporter, Harold-Standard