Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Are We Approaching a Crossroads or a Precipice?
[Editor’s note: The purpose of this article is to briefly address some of the most common perceptions and concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines and what we are now faced with. It is in no way meant to be a comprehensive tome or to disperse medical advice. As always, speak with your physician or healthcare expert to discuss whether you are a candidate for vaccination.]
As we quietly rang in the new year and put the catastrophe that was 2020 behind us, 2021 greeted us with hope as the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines started to become available to the wider public. As more groups of people became vaccinated, infection rates began to fall and restrictions were lifted, enabling people to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
And it was working. Past tense. Infection rates are rising again with a vengeance in all 50 states, largely due to the confluence of two factors: the more infectious and deadly COVID-19 Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy. Combine this with the fact that we are in the midst of the summer travel season and many are preparing to send their kids back to school, and we have the perfect recipe for disaster.
We have to ask ourselves why the hesitancy? One of the leading reasons is that the vaccines have emergency use authorization (EAU) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are not yet fully approved, even though they have been proven to be safe and highly effective at reducing infections, hospitalizations, and death. Two of the vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are mRNA vaccines and are the first of their kind approved for use in the U.S. Because they are new in the U.S., many people don’t understand how they work, what they contain, and assume they are experimental and untested. The truth is that scientists have been working on developing mRNA vaccines for decades to treat an array of infections.
Another reason for vaccine hesitancy is misinformation regarding the shots, side effects, severity of the disease, the actual numbers of those infected or deceased (we will likely never know the true numbers), and the enormous partisan divide in the U.S. (hint: viruses don’t care about politics). Much of the misinformation is being spread on social media echo chambers. There is also a sense that vaccines are for the individual and not the community. What helps the individual also helps the community.
This leads us to our initial question: Are we approaching a crossroads or a precipice? That depends on our next action, or inaction. If we are to beat COVID-19 and end the pandemic, more people need to get vaccinated to get the infection rates back down and greatly limit the threat of future variants of the disease. With the catastrophic potential of the Delta variant, we also need to be mindful to not let down our guard and become careless. To reduce the potential for the virus to spread, we need to minimize exposure. Continue to wear masks in places that pose risk for exposure. Consider that in many ways a virus is like a wildfire; it will only burn (spread) as long as there is fuel (host). Will we take the right path at the crossroads, or will inaction lead us to the precipice? If we all persevere and do our part, we will succeed in ending the pandemic.
If you or anyone you know are still hesitant and are medically able to get the vaccine, please speak to your doctor or healthcare professional and consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, friends, and community.
Below are helpful links to address some lingering concerns or answer any questions.
How COVID-19 vaccines work, types of vaccines, etc.:
Vaccine manufacturer data:
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
Ingredients included in COVID-19 vaccines (comparative table):
Myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines:
Mike Mackenzie is the marketing specialist for Ultra Clean Systems and editor-in-chief of NewSplash.