Some people express reluctance about getting the vaccine for COVID-19, citing concern about side effects and how effective the vaccines are. This is understandable, given how quickly the vaccines have been developed and the political overlay on the push to secure useful vaccines for COVID-19 disease.
So, let’s examine what we know so far:
- COVID-19 has killed more than 550,000 Americans as of the time of this writing. No one has died from being vaccinated, and more than 50 million Americans have received the vaccine to date. So here is the score card:
COVID-19: 550,000+ deaths versus COVID-19 Vaccine: 0 deaths
- The existing vaccines were tested using the gold standard of study methods (randomized clinical trial) in very large populations (> 30,000 each). They showed a very high level of effectiveness. Twenty times the number of unvaccinated people developed COVID-19 disease in the trial compared to the people who were vaccinated.
These events make us very confident that these vaccines work.
- The only important side effect of the vaccine detected so far is a severe allergic reaction in very few people within a few minutes of being vaccinated. They were immediately and successfully treated. The allergic reaction was reversed, and no ongoing effect from the reaction is expected.
- Vaccines, in fact, do not cause long term health problems, despite what some people say. There has been a suspicion that the flu vaccine causes a nervous system problem in a few out of every million people who receive it. But a National Academy of Sciences report reviewed all available studies a few years ago and found no solid evidence that the flu vaccine causes any long-term health effects. There is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is any different.
Here are a few reasons to get the vaccine as soon as you can:
Protect yourself – The vaccine will greatly protect you from getting ill with COVID-19, especially from severe COVID disease and death.
Help others – You need to get the vaccine to help others — your family and friends, people in your community, and the rest of us — from getting COVID-19. The virus only spreads from person to person. If fewer people have COVID-19 virus in their bodies, the virus will be less likely to spread. The “chain of transmission” (going from one person to the next) will slow and eventually die out (or nearly so) when it can’t spread from person to person, because most people are vaccinated. So, when you get the vaccine, you stop being part of the chain of transmission. It is like having a sign on your forehead, “The virus stops here.”
Set an example – You need to set an example for others. People will feel more comfortable getting the vaccine when others they know and trust have received it and recommend it. It has been truly hard to connect to other people during the pandemic, but getting the vaccine and informing others becomes a vital way to connect with and help your friends, family, and community.