Lainey Devlin and Elyssa Abbott
After a devastating year with 400,000 Americans dying due to the COVID-19 virus, medical professionals scrambled to combat the spread. Researchers racked their brains for solutions almost the entirety of 2020, while citizens ignored quarantine and mask guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use on December 11, 2020. Exactly a week later, the Moderna vaccine received approval as well. Finally a solution exists to end this nightmare, but still one-fifth of the world refuses to take the vaccine.
When given the option to take a vaccine developed within under a year, skepticism arises from many people understandably. This pandemic spurred global participation to reach a common goal: eradicating the virus and returning to normalcy. According to Medical News Today, the Mumps vaccine took four years to receive approval. Prior to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Mumps vaccine stood as the fastest vaccine ever to develop. Despite the mistrust, a number of factors went into the creation of the coronavirus vaccine. COVID-19 exists as just one of the hundreds of coronaviruses, so the virus did not spawn overnight, and neither did the vaccine. After facing vast testing, the UK approved the Pfizer vaccine in just seven short months upon testing on 43,000 people in the UK alone.
The COVID-19 vaccine utilizes mRNA technology to teach the cell how to make the protein found on the surface of the virus. The immune system then identifies the foreign protein and begins creating an immune response to it, creating antibodies. Unlike live attenuated vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the virus and will not infect people. The mRNA vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which houses DNA, so it can not alter it.
Why people should not fear the COVID vaccine
The side effects of the vaccine also seem to intimidate people and deter them from taking it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine show its effectiveness. The possible side effects include: pain and swelling on the arm, fever, chills, headache, and fatigue. These effects last for just a couple of days and the immunity justifies the pain. Although it does seem possible to contract the virus with the vaccine, the symptoms become less severe.
The vaccine, despite its approval from the FDA, continues to intimidate people who have faced prejudice within the healthcare industry. A survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that out of 777 Black participants, over half of them do not want to take the vaccine or feel uncomfortable doing so. The distrust in the healthcare system stems from years of misconceptions about how race affects pain and discriminatory treatment.
Despite the FDA authorizing emergency use for the vaccine, research will still continue on the participants from the trials for up to two years. The COVID-19 vaccine will help those in the high-risk group from experiencing severe symptoms and the country reach herd immunity, but only if 80-90 percent of Americans receive the vaccine. Due to the initiative of the researchers, the first step towards normalcy has begun.