Yes, get vaccinated, but honor the three W's of social distancing

zoranm/E+, Getty Images
(zoranm/E+, Getty Images)

As COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. climb toward 400,000, the scientific leadership of the AHA urges all eligible Americans to get vaccinated when possible.

The benefits of the two vaccines now moving into mass distribution far outweigh their minor side effects, according to AHA leaders, who consider vaccination, along with social-distancing protocols, essential to combating the pandemic.

"People with cardiovascular risk factors, heart disease and heart attack and stroke survivors should get vaccinated as soon as possible because they are at much greater risk from the virus than they are from the vaccine," the leaders said in a statement.

Even as distribution ramps up, the prospect of vaccination remains weeks or months away for many people, and even widespread vaccination will not eliminate the threat of the pandemic for long after that.

So the AHA scientists emphasized the commonplace precautions that reduce the spread of COVID-19 known as the three W's:

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Watch your distance, staying 6 feet apart from those who do not live in your household.

Wear a mask. (Keep in mind that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing in public.)

Developments regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines are fast-evolving. Collaborate with your health care professionals on how to stay healthy and safe in the days ahead.