By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Center
Kaieteur News– The world is going through the worst phase of the pandemic thus far. Cases and death rates are on the rise as the virus mutates into more effective strains. The only obvious way we can get a hold of the situation and slowly exit the pandemic, is to vaccinate approximately 80 percent of the world’s population. Getting vaccinated is voluntary and we depend on each other to do the right thing by getting our COVID-19 shots. Unfortunately, there are many myths being peddled about the COVID-19 vaccines and it’s creating unnecessary fears and skepticism. Today, I will address some common misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine with the hope of bringing clarity to the mistruths that are being peddled especially on social media.
The COVID-19 vaccine was developed so quickly, doesn’t this make it unsafe?
Millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and thus far, it has been proven safe and effective. Although it was developed in record time, it has gone through the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration process as every other vaccine, meeting all safety standards. No steps were skipped. The clinical trials and safety reviews actually took about the same amount of time as other vaccines. Scientists utilized existing technologies, which saved most of the time that would have been needed to develop a vaccine from scratch. Also, this is the first time that there was such a worldwide focus and investment into the creation of a vaccine. Sufficient funding and collaboration meant that the process was much more efficient.
Aren’t there serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions?
Some participants in the vaccine’s clinical trials did report side effects similar to those experienced with other vaccines, including muscle pain, chills and headache. And although extremely rare, people can have severe allergic reactions to ingredients used in a vaccine. That’s why experts recommend people with a history of severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis to the ingredients of the vaccine, should not get the vaccination. There is more media coverage on the COVID-19 vaccine than any other vaccine in history. Because of this, routine vaccine side effects get more exposure than usual and create unnecessary fears. While panadol is a safe over the counter drug, if we were to give 50 million persons it to drink, we would definitely find persons with side effects and allergies to it. This doesn’t mean that panadol or the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe; it’s a logical expectation that comes with giving any safe drug or vaccine to such mass numbers of people.
Do I need the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
If you have already had COVID-19, there’s evidence that you can still benefit from the vaccine. At this time, experts don’t know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
Can I get COVID-19 from the Vaccine?
You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine because it doesn’t contain the live virus.
Shouldn’t those that are at high risk for COVID-19 be vaccinated alone?
Regardless of your risk, you can still contract the infection and spread it to others, so it’s important you get vaccinated. Once the vaccine is widely available, it’s recommended that as many eligible adults as possible get the vaccine. In addition, doctors are finding long-term complications in those that are not high risk and had COVID-19.
Can I move around without a mask once I’m vaccinated?
Masking, hand-washing and physical distancing remain necessary until a sufficient number of people are immune. The best protection we can offer each other right now is to continue to follow current guidelines. As more people get vaccinated, experts will have a better idea of how long natural and vaccine immunity lasts. In any case, most of the vaccines require you to get two doses and to wait about a month for your body to develop immunity.
I am optimistic that the day will come where we do not have to wear masks and we can be free to move around. However, that day will not come without sufficient vaccination of the world’s population. We therefore, need to do our part and get vaccinated and avoid spreading fears and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
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