The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved the Pfizer vaccine for COVID in the United States. Great Britain and Canada did so earlier in the week. Several other vaccines are in the pipeline including a few frequently mentioned in the news such Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The proverbial light is glowing at the end of the tunnel.
Developing these vaccines in less than a year is an historic accomplishment. Now comes the enormous challenge of distributing these vaccines to every corner of the planet!
In the U.S., the Department of Defense is responsible for coordinating distribution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined a priority sequence for different sectors to be vaccinated. ‘Group One’ covering those deemed most vulnerable and in need of protection is divided into three subgroups starting with frontline medical workers and residents & workers in long-term care facilities. Some of these people will start getting shots within days.
The CDC has an FAQ page online that covers most COVID vaccine questions and issues on people’s minds.
The History of Vaccines
This seems like a good time to look back at the origins of vaccines. These few short videos tell the story.
A New Type of Vaccine: mRNA
Traditional vaccines use a “dead virus,” to put it crudely for purposes of discussion. The body doesn’t know the difference between this and a real invading virus, so the immune system activates to create create defensive antibodies. Some of the new vaccines for COVID-19 are based on a new technology called “mRNA,” or Messenger RNA. The mRNA essentially “instructs” the body on how to defend itself.
These next videos explain way better than I can.
The Anti-Vaccination Movement
The whole idea of vaccinations has been controversial since the beginning with many opposed. The reasons are varied and include religious convictions. Too often, the reasons are more anti-science or conspiracy based. Most readers here are probably familiar with the idea that a high correlation exists between vaccines and the onset of autism or mental retardation. This has been debunked, but still many parents refuse to vaccinate their children — with potentially devastating consequences. One has been a resurgence of measles which we had considered virtually eradicated.
Will You Get the COVID Vaccine?
Now we come to the $64,000 question: Will you get the COVID vaccine? Even people who ordinarily support vaccines have felt some reticence about this new COVID vaccine. The speed of its development and all the politicization of this crisis has people unsettled. Can this vaccine be trusted?
In September, according to the Pew Research Center, 49% of Americans were saying they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated. Those intending to get the vaccination had fallen to 51% from 72% in May.
This is concerning because to end the pandemic some experts estimate as much as 80-90% of the population needs to be immure, called “herd immunity.” To get there without enduring years of grinding infection, deaths and mask wearing, people need to get vaccinated. A more recent poll by Gallup now finds 58% of respondents, about 6 in 10, willing to be vaccinated, so the trend may be moving upward again.
Personally, I’m in. Being 67, I also expect my turn may come around reasonably soon. How about you? Are you intending to get the COVID vaccine?
Title image: Arek Socha from Pixabay.
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One thought on “Shots To Be Heard Around the World”
As a follow-up comment, an article in today’s New York Times reports on the COVID risks to longshoremen, both personally — some have died — and to the national supply chain if workers are sick and freight stops moving. The nature of the job puts them by necessity in a position where they “sweat and breathe heavily as they work in pairs side by side.” It’s being proposed that these workers be considered as priority recipients to get the vaccine. Quoting from the article,
“We’re hidden,” said Kenneth Riley, the president of the local longshoremen’s union in Charleston, S.C. “But if you think some of the store shelves were empty as we got into this pandemic, let these ports shut down and see how empty they’ll be.”