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Aug 26, 2021

"As a risk manager, I said yes to the vaccine." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Media Contact: Scott Wilder

As a risk manager, I said yes to the vaccine
Grady Judd, Sheriff

This editorial originally ran in the Winter Haven Sun, August 25, 2021.

I keep getting asked if I’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccination. I tell them it was an easy decision for me: yes. The moment I was eligible, I got the Moderna vaccine. The available data I had access to—that we all have access to—makes it clear to me that getting the vaccine is a smart risk management decision.
The decision to get the vaccine is an individual, personal decision. I don’t believe anyone should be forced to get the vaccine. I think people who have concerns about it should consult their physician and follow their advice. 
For me, I looked at the available data and I’ve seen our experience with Polk County Sheriff’s Office agency members related to COVID-19 vaccines. Not one of the hundreds of our members who have received the vaccine has had a serious negative reaction. Not one. We’ve had a few who’ve had an allergic response and have been unable to get a second dose, but no one has become seriously ill.
Sadly, we have had non-vaccinated members become infected with the virus and become seriously ill and required hospitalization. One of my deputies, tragically, has died of COVID-19. We have had a few PCSO members who got the vaccine and contracted the Delta variant—each of these few cases resulted in minor illness and no hospitalizations.
Lately, COVID-19 infections have resulted in increased serious illness and hospitalizations—the overwhelming majority of those didn’t get the vaccine—95%-99% were unvaccinated. According to medical experts I trust, nearly every death due to COVID-19 is now entirely preventable if you get vaccinated.
As a risk manager, not a medical expert, those numbers make it clear to me that getting the vaccine, for those who are medically cleared to get them, makes sense.
Over a recent three week period, I’ve been directly exposed to four unvaccinated people (that I know of) who were diagnosed with COVID-19 (one of whom died) soon after I interacted with them. I’ve had no symptoms and no infections. Anecdotally, that makes me feel good about my decision. 
I will say that messaging about the COVID-19 from some of those in government, including some politicians, has been poor and inconsistent. The politicization of the vaccine, face masks, and the virus itself is a sad commentary about the politicization of just about everything going on in modern American life. 
Some people are skeptical of the federal government and they don’t trust what’s being said by those in authority. Some people worry about the long-term consequences of the vaccines. And it’s true that the vaccines did not go through the “regular process,” but it’s also true that multiple clinical studies have looked at the vaccines, and so far, they have been shown to be safe and effective. And now, the Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. 
If there is some negative outcome in future years related to the vaccine, that’s a risk I’ve considered, and compared to the real-life, current negative consequences of not getting the vaccine, including death, I’m comfortable with my decision. 
As you weigh the evidence of whether to get the vaccine, I ask that you consider not only your best interest, but also that of your family and friends who love you and need you healthy and in their lives.