It's the last week of spring and most commercial fishermen are hard at it, making a living and maybe not thinking too much about COVID-19. After all, mask mandates are largely lifted and the U.S. has been averaging between 100,000 and 110,000 new cases daily for the past three weeks. That's way down from January's peak of more than 900,000 case per day. However, your fishing business is still at risk, if you haven't yet gotten both doses of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine and the available boosters.
Even if your plan is to "turn and burn" through the summer, you and your crewmates will be at risk for infection whenever you come ashore to sell your catch, buy groceries, or do laundry. If you celebrate a successful trip with dinner and few drinks at your favorite watering hole, your risk increases accordingly.
Even a mild case of COVID-19 will keep you or your boat at the dock for five days at a minimum and possibly longer, particularly if you are at higher risk for serious disease. Risk factors that increase your chance of serious disease are:
having high blood pressure
All but smoking are conditions associated with age and if you haven't noticed, 69% of all commercial fishermen are 40 years of age or older. Why risk your income and your livelihood when you can get vaccinated for free?
If you have already had COVID-19, you may be wondering if you still need vaccinations and boosters. The answer to that questions is "yes". Infection-induced ("natural") immunity is not as effective or as durable as vaccine-induced immunity and you can become infected again. A two-dose vaccination, plus a booster give you the best chance of avoiding serious disease.
Of course, you may have been vaccinated and also caught COVID. The COVID-19 vaccines were designed to prevent serious disease, hospitalization, and death. They remain very effective at that. Initially, they were also very effective at preventing infection. However, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus has continued to evolve, it has developed abilities to evade the body's learned immunity.
If you caught COVID-19 after getting vaccinated, as unpleasant or as mild as your case may have been, you have already benefited from the head start the vaccines gave your immune system in combatting the disease. So have your crewmates, family, and friends. Vaccination reduces the risk of transmitting the virus if you become infected.
Looking ahead, both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech are working on updated vaccines for the fall. These vaccines will be designed to offer protection from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as the Omicron variants that are currently prevalent. Many experts expect that we will be getting annual COVID-19 boosters, much the same as we get updated vaccinations for the flu.
Those are some compelling reasons to get vaccinated and a booster, so that you and your crewmates can keep fishing and keep earning. If you need help finding vaccinations in your area click here: https://www.vaccines.gov/. Stay healthy and Catch Fish. Not COVID.