Everyone should get Ithe coronavirus jab
I BELIEVE everyone should get the coronavirus vaccine when it’s available for their age group. When there are multiple shots of varying effectiveness, they say take whatever is available to you first. So when I got the text message that my vaccination appointment is May 17, I should have been relieved. So why am I hesitant to get vaccinated?
I’m a rational person who believes in the science behind vaccines. However misinformation, caution fatigue, access and a general lack of knowledge is creating the perfect storm for vaccine hesitancy.
While any approved vaccine has been deemed safe and effective, there’s a chance some vaccines may be more effective than others. You may wonder if you should hold out for what you perceive to be the very best vaccine, but the evidence suggests that we all should get the first vaccine available to us. Currently in the TRNC we have two available vaccine options: China’s Sinovac (CoronaVac) and AstraZeneca. Despite my fear of needles, if we had 95 per cent effective Pfizer or Moderna vaccines here I would have been the first in line with my sleeve rolled up to get either of these options. Conflicting information about CoronaVac and AstraZeneca vaccines have given me pause.
A key question for all Covid vaccines is whether they can prevent or deter actual transmission of the virus. Just a few weeks ago, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention director, Gao Fu, said at a conference that the efficacy rates of Chinese vaccines needed improving. Its general efficacy rates range from just above 50 percent in Brazil to 65 percent in Indonesia and over 91 percent in Turkey as shown in clinical trials. That’s a huge difference in efficacy results between the three countries. If we use the lowest possible efficacy rate at only 50 per cent, doesn't that mean I would still have a 50 per cent chance of contracting coronavirus?
Then it was announced that the AstraZeneca vaccine was available here without an appointment for anyone who wants it. People flocked to the hospitals waiting in line in the blazing sun to get this vaccine instead of CoronaVac. But didn’t I read somewhere that there was an issue with the AstraZeneca virus? Rare but deadly blood clots have been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. In the end, the risk of developing the clotting syndrome is very low.
In an effort to get past my hesitation, I took a step back to weigh the benefits of vaccination:
- Getting the Covid-19 vaccine can protect you from getting sick.
Getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible will save the most lives, and for any given person, a “less effective” vaccine will still provide substantial protection against severe Covid-19.
Each vaccine that has received World Health Organization (WHO) authorisation has been proven to decrease severe illness, hospitalisation and death, the worst outcomes of Covid-19.
Waiting too long to be vaccinated allows the coronavirus to continue spreading in the community, with new variants emerging. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protected.
Hand washing, wearing a face mask and maintaining distance from others is like defensive driving. The vaccine works like a seatbelt – very effective, but it needs to be worn in order for it to work. Medication acts like the airbag, but it only helps you after impact. Covid-19 is like a person who runs the red light as you’re moving through the intersection. If you get hit, you have all three safety tools working together to avoid the most damage.
- Getting vaccinated for Covid-19 helps others in your community (65+, those with chronic diseases, children)
The more people who receive the coronavirus vaccines, the sooner vulnerable people can feel safe among others.
- More vaccinations for Covid-19 mean a chance to return to normal.
The vaccines may not offer lifetime protection, especially if new variants continue to emerge, and further doses may be needed to bolster immunity. Getting any of the approved vaccines when you are eligible is important, not just for protecting yourself, but for helping get life back to normal for everyone.
- Though the Covid-19 vaccine development was fast, it did not skip steps.
Scientific teams around the world have developed successful Covid-19 vaccines in an incredibly short amount of time. In a feat that even a couple of years ago would have seemed completely out of reach, vaccines to protect against the coronavirus were being used before the first anniversary of the disclosure that it existed. This is truly extraordinary.
- Side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are temporary and do not mean you’re sick.
Common side effects are:
In the arm where you got the shot:
Throughout the rest of your body:
To be clear: these side effects are a sign of an immune system kicking into gear. They do not signal that the vaccine is unsafe.
- If you’ve already had Covid-19, getting the vaccine will add extra protection.
Even if you have already had Covid-19, you can still get a vaccine. Current guidelines suggest that anyone previously infected with Covid-19 should be vaccinated. Some people who have been vaccinated after having Covid-19 have observed a strong immune reaction after the first of the two shots.
- Covid-19 vaccines: time is of the essence.
As we move through different stages of this pandemic, it’s crucial that we continue to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Doing so will help determine the outcome of how long this will all last.
It’s been reported that between 70 to 85 per cent of the population will need to be vaccinated for us to reach herd immunity against Covid-19. And although there is still truth to those numbers, vaccine hesitancy will likely now make herd immunity difficult to achieve as we pass through different stages of the pandemic.
- Vaccines can’t save lives unless people get vaccinated.
Vaccines are proven, life-saving medicines that have made an enormous contribution to global health. It is often stated that vaccination has made the greatest contribution to global health of any human intervention apart from the introduction of clean water and sanitation.
We know that over time vaccines have globally eradicated many diseases including polio, measles, mumps and whooping cough. We also know that without vaccines pandemics would be rampant throughout the world, especially in low-income and developing countries. Efficacy rates may be lower in some vaccines but experts say that means more people will need to receive vaccinations to achieve herd immunity.
Polio has almost been eradicated and success in controlling measles makes this infection another potential target for eradication. Despite these successes, approximately 6.6 million children still die each year and about a half of these deaths are caused by infections, which could be prevented by vaccination.
An immediate family member who was supposed to get her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on May 10 was talked out of getting it by her husband. Her husband believes that coronavirus exists but that the government has inflated the number of cases and deaths and that the “vaccine” is a hoax. He convinced her that the vaccines were created too quickly and that the government is microchipping people in order to track them (I wish I was making this up). So while I was grappling with my own issue, it never occurred to me that this could be a possible scenario involving someone I know.
So I tried putting myself in her place first, then as someone who may be able to help her get past this and get back on track to get vaccinated. On one side you have those who are fearful, doubtful or have questions. Maybe all of the changing guidelines made them nervous or perhaps they’re on the fence about receiving the vaccine because of the side effects. People in the middle group tend to fall in the “wait and see” category or simply need more information from a trusted source or individual.
It’s important to remember that there are a variety of reasons for someone to be uncertain about the vaccines. It’s normal and perfectly OK to have questions or concerns about it. Vaccine hesitancy shouldn’t be about judgment. It’s about meeting the person where they are and then reassuring, educating and ultimately helping them get vaccinated.
Many times, fear means there’s a lack of information. If you find out that a friend or family member is fearful of the vaccine, as I did, try to get to the root of what is causing that fear. Are they scared of the long-term effects? Are they afraid of how quickly they were developed? Are they uncertain because they don’t know what’s in the vaccine (it’s definitely not a microchip)?
Because of this, it’s crucial that we continue to press on and get as many people fully vaccinated as possible. But how do we solve this complex issue of vaccine hesitancy? What can we say or do to help sway uncertain friends or family members?
Knowing the source of someone’s fear can help you tailor your message and get them the information they need. You may be fully vaccinated and well-informed, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has the same experience or even the same resources as you.
If the person mentions that they are concerned about the vaccine changing their DNA and you already know that’s not true (because it isn’t), tread carefully about how you respond. Your first instinct might be to roll your eyes (this was my reaction) but that will likely make the person feel defensive. Making someone feel ashamed or embarrassed only makes people less likely to change. Also be careful not to push your own opinions or beliefs too strongly.
So after careful consideration of all the information I could find, the pros and cons and referencing my relative’s experience, I’ve decided to go and get vaccinated even if the only option is CoronaVac.
Do your research. Take the time to ask questions and learn all you can about the Covid-19 vaccine from reliable sources so you can make the most informed decision about getting vaccinated. In the meantime even if you are double-vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask, social distance and follow basic hygiene rules to protect yourself, your loved ones and others.