There has been a lot of media attention and discussion about the COVID vaccines. Since there has also been so much misinformation and confusion, I wanted to share with you my own personal views about the vaccine, including my responses to some of the concerns people have and my advice about whether people should take the vaccine.
The first COVID vaccine to arrive was the Pfizer version, an mRNA-based vaccine. All six physicians here at Fair Oaks Women’s Health have received their first dose of this vaccine and are scheduled for their second dose soon. All the doctors in our practice trust the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine
(and the Moderna vaccine as well
). We are potentially exposed to COVID every day, and for each of us the issue came down to answering one question: “Which risk do we choose -- the risk of COVID or the risk of the vaccine?” It is my view that for most people, not just healthcare professionals, the risk of COVID (including the risk to yourself and others) outweighs the risk of getting the vaccine.
What reasons might someone have for not getting a COVID vaccine? Here are a few:
Reason #1: The vaccine is not safe.
Dr. Jick’s Response: Define safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed the vaccines safe. So has the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). President-Elect Biden has had the vaccine. The U.S. Surgeon General has had the vaccine. All the physicians in our group have had the vaccine. If you feel the vaccine is not safe, my question is this – what other person or group needs to tell you the vaccine is safe before you would agree?
Reason #2: The vaccine might cause long-term complications.
Dr. Jick’s Response: This is possible, but it can take years before those are known. There are dozens of vaccines in use for many years that have been proven safe from long-term risks. There is every reason to believe the same will occur with the COVID vaccine. But people are getting sick from COVID now, they are giving it to others now and they are dying, in record numbers, now. The vaccine will help reduce the number of cases and will reduce the number of deaths NOW. The risk of long-term side effects is remote but possible, but this is not a valid reason for declining the vaccine.
Reason #3: The vaccine has side effects.
Dr. Jick’s Response: This is true for some, but these are definitely not worse than the effects of getting COVID, or the risk of transmitting COVID to a loved one. None of the physicians in our group had side effects after the first dose except maybe a sore arm for a day or so.
Reason #4: Herd Immunity will protect me, so I do not need the vaccine.
Dr. Jick’s Response:
Maybe. Herd immunity
can provide protection but at least 80 to 90% of the population needs to be recovered from COVID or vaccinated to provide this type of protection. Herd immunity means that so many people around you are already immune that the chance for the vaccine to spread is very low. Given the number of people refusing the vaccine, you should not count on herd immunity for protection.
Reason #5: You can get COVID from the vaccine.
Dr. Jick’s Response: Absolutely NOT TRUE. There is no live COVID virus in any of the COVID vaccines. Some of the vaccines use a deactivated cold virus to deliver the COVID antigens into the cells so that the body’s immune system will activate, but there is no way to get COVID from those.
There is abundant misinformation.
- The vaccine contains a microchip produced by Bill Gates.
- The vaccine causes infertility.
- The vaccine will allow the government to mind control us.
- The vaccine profits are all going to Dr Fauci (or George Soros or China)
Get the Vaccine – the risks of COVID far outweigh the risks of the vaccines.
Ultimately, there is no risk-free option going forwards. COVID is never going away. That might be hard to accept given its recent appearance, but it’s true. Measles, Whooping Cough and Chicken Pox (all viral illnesses) have been around for generations and will likely never go away. The only reason we do not see hundreds of thousands of illnesses and deaths from these dangerous and highly communicable diseases is that the majority of people in the US have been vaccinated for them, almost all as children, with boosters for adults. COVID is the same, it is just newer, and none of us have immunity to it. Due to the unusual nature of COVID, every living human being can potentially get this illness. The only way to be safe from a COVID infection is to be vaccinated or to have recovered from the illness.
We do not have all the answers yet.
Experts do disagree on how long your immunity lasts after a COVID vaccine or after recovering from a COVID infection and also on whether or not someone who has had COVID can get it again. I believe that once more studies have been done, we will determine that immunity to COVID is likely to last for many years (a whooping cough vaccine booster is advised every 10 years for example) and that it will be rare to see people who had the infection get it again. (Mutations are another issue, too complex for this article.)
Just answer this one question.
In the end, each of us needs to answer one question: “Which risk do we choose -- the risk of COVID or the risk of the vaccine?” There is no risk-free option available. All the physicians here at Fair Oaks Women's Health have chosen to have the vaccine. We hope you will also and at the first available opportunity.
In the meantime, please stay safe and follow all COVID precautions. The number of cases per day is high and the hospitals are still full. Do everything you can to avoid getting exposed. Be well.