As 2020 comes to an end, Americans find themselves at a critical point in helping treat the coronavirus.
COVID-19 cases are increasing every day, and government officials try to find a plan to ensure every American receives the vaccine.
With many unprecedented events that have taken place since the pandemic began, Americans find themselves facing another dilemma; Should they trust the vaccine? Downplaying the importance of protective masks, mixed messages over lockdown protocols and the need to obey the social-distancing rules may have contributed to many Americans not taking this virus or the vaccine quite seriously.
While 50% of individuals question the vaccine’s seriousness, the other half may not get it because they question its efficacy.
Many Americans of color, Black and Latinx, say they will not get either vaccines, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, because of incidents in America’s medical history when it comes to people of color.
For example, the Tuskegee experiment is credited as one of America’s medical history’s most disturbing. Also, there are economic and cultural inequities in the U.S. healthcare system that disproportionately harm Black and Latinx communities.
There are genuine reasons why some people may be skeptical and fear the new vaccines.
Public health officials face real concerns with Black Americans that could impact the country’s ability to reach its goal of vaccinating over 100 million Americans. As President-Elect Joe Biden wanted to accomplish within his first 100 days as president.
According to a poll in September done by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated, some 70% of Black Americans believe that people are mistreated based on race or ethnicity when seeking medical care.
The circumstances surrounding the pandemic called for a quicker-than-usual development process, resulting in perceptions that corners are being cut while creating the vaccine.
The National Medical Association, an organization of Black doctors, has created a committee to vet the science behind the new COVID-19 vaccines and allow their results to be made public so Black and brown communities will know the vaccine is safe to receive.
The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna vaccine on Dec.18, trying to put the pandemic in control as effectively as possible. The FDA website states that the EUA allows “individuals 18 years of age and older” in the U.S.U.S to use this vaccine.
Two shots are required for the vaccine to work effectively, with the second shot 3 to 4 weeks after the first one.
Both vaccine companies are currently testing people to see if adding a third dose — a booster shot — might extend protection.
With the month in between doses, it is unknown how long it will protect people from catching the virus again.
Moderna believes its vaccine should protect people against COVID-19 for at least a year, Moderna’s top chief medical officer Tal Zaks told the JP Morgan’s 39th Annual Healthcare Conference.
“Our expectation is that the vaccination should last you at least a year,” he said.
Moderna’s clinical trials have shown that the vaccine was 94% effective in preventing symptomatic infections.
The company released its data, showing the vaccine also prevents all infections, including those that do not cause symptoms.
The vaccine doesn’t contain the live virus, so receiving it will not cause people to contract COVID-19. However, people should be aware that, as human bodies need some weeks to build immunity after vaccination, it’s still possible to become infected.
The goal of vaccination is to enable the body’s immune system to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus, protecting people from being infected.
Nonetheless, people may test positive on antibody tests if their body develops immunity for COVID-19 after vaccination, indicating they have some protection against it.
According to the CDC, clinical trials show that the Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective among individuals who received two doses and are not infected before.
The CDC recommends people who have had COVID-19 and then recovered to receive the vaccine since there are possibilities of re-infection and severe health risks resulting from exposure.
There are some potential side effects. The most common ones include pain or swelling on the injected arm and some flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, headaches and fatigue.
The CDC states they are “normal signs that your body is building protection” and should disappear within a couple of days. People should still get the second shot despite side effects after the first one unless “a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to.”
However, if the side effects increase or don’t go away after, it’s better to call a doctor.
At a vaccination appointment, the patient will get two printouts. One is a vaccination card, stating what vaccine they received and when and where they received it. The other one is a fact sheet containing more specific information about the vaccine, either in print or electronically, to further understand the benefits and risks of receiving it.
For the vaccine to substantially reduce the number of lives lost in this pandemic, there will need to be a near-universal willingness among all Americans to get vaccinated.
After Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and many other political officials received the vaccine, officials hope this will help other Americans follow suit.
COVID-19 has killed more than 318,000 people and infected nearly 18 million in the U.S. alone.
There’s still uncertainty about the exact number of Americans needed to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted that the number would need to be somewhere between 75 to 85% at a recent Harvard event.
On Friday morning, Fauci said that “it’s quite feasible’ for the U.S. to achieve Biden’s goal of distributing 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100 days of office.