The emergency use authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against covid-19 could mark the beginning of the end of a pandemic that has ravaged and terrorised the world for almost a year. But if we are to be successful in stomping out infection rates, we must first address another barrier: people that don’t want to take the vaccine.
Considering the roller coaster of a year we’ve had, it’s understandable to have some doubts about a covid-19 vaccine. However, getting a vaccine is not only a way to protect yourself, but also a way to protect your community.
Therefore, as we show you some pretty cool photos of people getting their covid-19 vaccine this week, we’ll also run down some things you should know about the vaccines and the U.S. vaccine rollout. In addition, we highly encourage everyone to get vaccinated if and when they can.
The U.S. Vaccine Campaign Has Started
The U.S. began vaccinating people on Monday, which was shortly after the Food and Drug Administration authorised the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use. The data to evaluate the vaccine came from a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, and randomised clinical trial involving more than 44,000 volunteers in the country ages 16 and older. Although the trial is still ongoing, data demonstrated that the two-dose vaccine appeared to be 95% effective at preventing symptoms of covid-19 a week after the second dose was administered.
The Side Effects for Pfizer’s Vaccine Are Not Too Scary
Overall, the side effects of Pfizer’s vaccine could be described as flu-like symptoms — nothing too scary. According to the safety data reviewed, 84.1% experienced pain or itching at the injection site, 62.9% experienced fatigue, and 55.1% had a headache. Other side effects included muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.9%), and fever (14.2%). There were no severe or life-threatening adverse effects linked to taking the vaccine among the 38,000 participants analysed.
There have so far been five reports of allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine in America. The FDA has said that people who have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine should avoid getting the shot.
And Neither Are the Side Effects for Moderna’s Vaccine
When it comes to the Moderna vaccine — which was authorised for emergency use on Friday and has been shown to be about 94% effective — the side effects appear to affect slightly more people. More than 90% of volunteers experienced injection site pain, close to 70% experienced fatigue, and about 60% had headaches or migraines. The overall rate of serious adverse effects was low. Nonetheless, the FDA said that the Moderna vaccine should not be given people who have had severe allergic reactions to any components of the shot, per Reuters.
Many experts have said that vaccine side effects are often a necessary evil, as they’re an indication that the body’s immune system is working as is intended. Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are the only ones that will reach Americans this year, although there are several other candidates in development that could be approved or authorised for emergency use in the near future.
This Nurse Was One of the First People to Receive the Vaccine
One of the first people to receive the shot was the critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay, who works at the Long Island Jewish Medical Centre in Queens. Lindsay, originally from Jamaica, said the vaccination didn’t feel different from any other, adding that she wanted to instil public confidence in the vaccine’s safety. She stated that the West Indian community was reluctant to take the vaccine and that she wanted to encourage the community to follow her lead, per the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m feeling well, I would like to thank all the front-line workers, all my colleagues,” Lindsay said on Monday. “We all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic.”
The CDC Has Recommended Healthcare Workers and Long-Term Care Facility Residents Be Vaccinated First
Because initial vaccine doses are limited, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents be vaccinated first. It is still not clear which population groups will be next in line for the vaccine, although some speculate that the next groups could be the elderly, people with high-risk comorbidities and essential workers.
It’s Not Certain That Those Who Are Most At-Risk Will Get the Vaccine
Unfortunately, it isn’t certain that those who are most at risk will get a vaccine. According to a December survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation that tracks the public’s attitude and experiences with covid-19 vaccines, 71% of the public said that they would definitely or probably get a vaccine against the disease — an increase of 8% since the last survey carried out by the KFF in September. About 27% of the public remains hesitant, the survey found, saying that they probably or definitely would not get a covid-19 vaccine.
Some Surveys Show High Intention, But Others Do Not
Other surveys are not as optimistic, though. A poll conducted in early December by the Associated Press and the NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research found that only 47% plan to get a covid-19 vaccine. Per the survey, 27% said they were not sure and 26% said they would not get a vaccine.
ln Order for the Vaccine to Be Effective, Many, Many People Need to Get It
As we mentioned earlier, it is important for as many people to get vaccinated as possible in order to stop the spread of the virus. This past Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told NPR that 50% of the U.S. population needs to get vaccinated before we start to see an impact. However, Fauci added that between 75% and 85% have to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
According to experts with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection, or herd immunity, to those who are not immune to the disease. Vaccines have helped establish herd immunity for diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, and chickenpox.
Members of Congress and the White House Have Already Rolled Up Their Sleeves
In recent days, members of Congress from both parties have gotten vaccinations, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician, said that all members of Congress are eligible to be vaccinated under federal continuity guidelines and asked them to make appointments with his office to do so. On the White House side, Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated on live TV on Friday and called the milestone a “medical miracle.”
President-elect Joe Biden and incoming First Lady Jill Biden will receive their vaccines shortly.
This Could Be the Beginning of the End, So Do Your Part
In the NPR interview, Fauci said that in addition to administering the vaccine as quickly as possible, the U.S. would still have to implement public health measures to prevent the surges of infections throughout the country. On Monday, the same day the vaccination campaign began, the U.S. death toll from covid-19 topped 300,000. As of Saturday, the country had reported more than 17.6 million infections.
“It’s bittersweet that we have the beginning of what will ultimately be the end game of this pandemic,” Fauci said.
But it’s a battle we all have to confront together. So do your part, and get a vaccine. I know I will.