By Amaya Morales
Unsure about the COVID-19 vaccination? Hearing crazy things about what to expect? Worried about what could possibly go wrong?
As with any vaccine or medication, you should know the facts before deciding whether you should go through with it. Being informed, regardless of stance, is the best thing you can do to protect yourself — and others.
Here are the facts: The process to create the COVID-19 vaccines has been so much more rapid than any previous vaccine due to modern science, rapid research and a worldwide effort to produce an inoculation against this insidious coronavirus.
At this time, there are two vaccines available in the U.S. — one developed and produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the second by Moderna. Both are distributed under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
These vaccines went through a series of steps to ensure safety and efficacy. There were also independent reviews and approvals necessary to follow the next steps of distributing the vaccine.
Additionally, large groups of individuals volunteered for clinical trials that helped answer various questions about safety and protection.
And if that isn’t convincing enough, a clinical trial conducted by Pfizer, German company BioNTech and Chinese drugmaker Fosun Pharma was conducted to create a two-dose mRNA vaccine. They tested the candidate vaccine on over 43,000 individuals, ages 16 and older, in a two-phase efficacy trial.
Each participant was given either a dose of a placebo or the BNT162b2 vaccine 21 days apart from each other. The vaccine is made up of “a lipid nanoparticle–formulated, nucleoside-modified RNA vaccine that is encoded with a stabilized membrane-anchor of the SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike protein,” according to the report conducted by Pfizer. That is to say there is no live virus in the vaccine.
The trial concluded that receiving two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. Some side effects included short-term, mild-to-moderate pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache.
Those who received the placebo were more likely to get the COVID-19 virus, according to the Pfizer report. As a result of this trial, eight days after receiving the second dose, only eight individuals who received the BNT162b2 vaccine had COVID-19 while 162 of the placebo recipients had COVID-19.
Getting the Vaccine
The CDC has posted a list of important things to know regarding the vaccine, such as who can get it and the kinds of side effects an individual may experience as a result of getting the vaccine.
On its website, the CDC says the vaccine supply is limited and that certain groups, primarily, healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, are prioritized to receive the vaccine first.
When vaccine availability increases, other groups such as essential workers and senior citizens will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
It’s OK to have mixed feelings about the COVID-19 vaccine. However, being informed is important and asking questions is also important.
If I were on line to receive the vaccine, I would be behind 23 million people in the U.S., 615,000 people in New Jersey, and in Bergen County, 71,000 people, according to a tool published by The New York Times.
Being an essential worker has made me question whether serving others or protecting myself is more important. However, like many individuals, I cannot afford to stay home. The bills don’t stop just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
Nonetheless, I am fortunate to still have a job because many people in our country have lost theirs. Unfortunately, there is no “winning” in this type of situation.
As I wait my turn, I will evaluate the data in the news and make a decision about getting the shots — or not. I will make an informed decision.
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