With a mixture of euphoria, relief and a dose of skepticism the COVID-19 vaccines are here. After developing and approving a vaccine in record speed, the world is ready for inoculation.
Or is it? There are plenty of folks who are nervous to take it, fearing it didn't go through enough testing and refusing to be a "guinea pig" or "lab rat". But are those fears well founded? The science says no.
What did the Trials Show?
The Pfizer trial had 44,000 participants and Moderna's vaccine trial had 30,000. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has confirmed there were no serious side effects present in ANY of the volunteers.
The trials did show that primarily after the second vaccine shot, some volunteers experienced fatigue, headache, muscle ache, dizziness, joint pain and fever - which is considered an indication that the body is responding, fighting and creating the appropriate anti-bodies - not unlike what may happen after one gets a flu vaccination.
How are Scientists Responding to the Questions?
- QUESTION ONE: One of the questions people have, is that while the trial may demonstrate the safety of the vaccination in the short term, how does it know it's safe in the long term. It's a reasonable question.
The answer is that in the history of vaccinations, negative side effects have mainly been found to show up shortly after vaccination, or within a month thereafter. The trials, which started in March, have not shown any negative side effects within that span. That should give us confidence, if this vaccine behave like all other vaccines.
- QUESTION TWO: Another fear people have is that the technology behind this vaccination, mRNA, is relatively new, and are worried it may have the potential to affect human DNA?
COVID-19 is the first virus to be approved for an mRNA vaccine, allowing researchers to develop a vaccine in record time, as opposed to the previously shortest vaccine development cycle of 4 years.
While mRNA has been studied for the past 10 years, no unusual or safety issues have been found with this method. RNA-based vaccines do not reach the cell nucleus, so they can’t affect the genes in DNA, because it doesn't reach it. The RNA also degrades quickly, causing even less concern of long term damage.
- QUESTION THREE: Some people believe that vaccines are generally unsafe and that we shouldn't be injecting anything unnaturally into our bodies.
That logic simply doesn't hold. Vaccines are responsible for in large part eradicating polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, Rubella, Hib, measles, the whooping cough and pneumococcal disease. Tens if not hundreds of millions of people would have dies without a vaccine for these diseases - none of these vaccines have been demonstrated to show serious side effects.
It should also be noted that approximately 50% of Americans receive a flu vaccine each year - without any serious issues.
Which Leaders have Committed to Taking the Vaccination?
While this is no guarantee of its safety, there is some comfort that those "in the know", so to speak, have committed to taking the vaccine in public. Some of those folks include:
- President Elect Joe Biden
- President Barack Obama
- President George Bush
- President Bill Clinton
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
- Dr. Anthony Faucci
- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, leader of the World Health Organization
We expect this list to grow.
All said, vaccinations have been used as an essential tool in the battle against human viruses for decades and have saved tens of millions of lives in the United States and worldwide. If you were willing to trust the science behind all the vaccinations you've taken to date, why stop now?