What You Need To Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

What You Need To Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine
Covid-19 VaccineThe world has been put on standby. Countries and their citizens have been awaiting a return to normalcy since the beginning of 2020. As the year comes to a close, we are hoping the new year rings in renewed hope for an optimistic outlook on life. On December 11th the FDA announced what we’ve been waiting to hear since March, “The vaccine is ready to be distributed”. But despite the relief millions of Americans felt after being given the news, many were skeptical, and even reacted with opposition. Why is this? The stigma surrounding the vaccine is most likely due to the misconception that the vaccine was completely created in the last year. In reality, scientists have been studying this kind of virus for decades.

Scientists have studied the large group of diseases the Coronavirus belongs to since the beginning of the 2000s. Having created vaccines for both the SARS and MERS outbreaks in 2002 and 2012 respectively, scientists were prepared to use their past knowledge to their advantage. The Coronavirus we now know, along with the two viruses previously mentioned, are coronaviruses. Covid-19 is only a specific member of the coronavirus family of viruses, which usually originate from animals and pass to humans through unsanitary contact. The information gathered during the SARS and MERS outbreaks directed scientists in the direction of the spike protein. If you are unfamiliar with the physical appearance of Covid-19, do not fret, it is very easy to visualize- a ball with thorns. Those thorns, or spike proteins, will be the means of their own destruction. The vaccines have been formulated to block the proteins, whose sole job is to attach to the body’s cells and replicate. Once these proteins have been blocked, the infection will not be able to progress. The scientific community also attributes its speedy reaction to the years of research and funding poured into the study of the HIV/AIDS virus.
As of right now, the FDA has only granted the Pfizer-BioNTech emergency authorization to dispense its vaccine. But Pfizer was not alone in the race to develop the Covid-19 vaccination. The FDA is currently reviewing the Moderna vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson vaccines are in the last stages of their development. The Moderna vaccine is expected to be approved by the FDA sometime next week. Boasting a 94.5% efficacy rate, the Moderna vaccine will be considered just as stable and effective as its predecessor.

Many Americans have already been wondering which vaccine they should take; health experts say that it does not matter and there will most likely not be a choice between the two. Whichever is available is considered to be the better vaccine. Both vaccines do require a two-part dosage, so once the first shot has been administered, patients will need to return to their place of vaccination and receive the second after 3-4 weeks. The most notable difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine is their varying storage temperatures. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at a frigid temperature of 70 degrees below, while the Moderna vaccine is able to be held at only negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, the Pfizer vaccines will likely be sent to large hospitals with access to freezers capable of that temperature. After the Moderna vaccine is approved, it will most likely be sent to urgent care facilities and pharmacies that have the ability to store them at the correct temperature.

The Pfizer company has tested more volunteers than any other individual company, with a total of 44,000 in the United States alone. Despite the abundance of volunteers, this number is a fraction of the rest of the world. Some groups of people with specific differences will not react to the vaccine in the same way others do. This is a real concern for many Americans. One group in particular, pregnant women, have no idea what the vaccine could mean for them. No pregnant women were included in the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine trials. Scientists have no reason to believe they will react any differently, but there is still room for worry. Pregnant women are supposed to avoid fevers and sickness anyway; if the virus was injected on purpose there would be no way of knowing what it could do.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not to receive the vaccine, relax, the majority of people will most likely not be able to receive it for a few more months. Yes, distribution has begun, but healthcare workers and long-term care facility patients will be among the first groups of people to receive it.
As we enter into the new era of the Coronavirus, it is important to remember the intense and extensive research behind the vaccine. The “normal” that has become our lives this past year is not “normal”. The fear and anxiety that hides behind masks should not be what prevents people from receiving a possible cure for a virus that has killed over 1.5 million people who were not offered a cure before they took their last breath. The responsibility of individuals to care for others has been preached since the beginning of the outbreak, there is no reason to abandon that instruction now.

By Addie Hedges