A year ago this month, our entire world changed beyond what any of us could fathom and the absolute calamity that would soon follow was still unseen. Fast forward 12 months through government shutdowns and regulations, lost jobs, several quarantines and many imposed rules we never before could have comprehended, and I am happy to say the end is near.
Or rather, nearer than it was a few months ago.
With the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, we are finally on our way to herd immunity, also known as population immunity, the notion that by vaccinating a population, we can protect ourselves from certain viruses, such as COVID-19. This type of immunity is reached when a large portion of our community becomes immune to the virus, either from spread or vaccination, and thus making the spread of the disease from person to person less unlikely.
This month, I am happy to say that after receiving the Moderna vaccine three days before Christmas, we are well on our way at Ephraim McDowell to protect our workers and community, and have already vaccinated over half of our staff. With the vaccine’s proposed availability to the public sometime in the next few months, the time is finally drawing near when we can get back to what most of us have been eagerly anticipating – a more normal kind of life. Social distancing, wearing a mask and washing our hands is not over yet, as it is still necessary to follow these guidelines until we’ve reached a much larger immunity level nationwide, but we’ve finally been given the tools we need to get there.
Although we still have many unanswered questions about COVID-19, there is much reassuring data that can help ease the community’s fears about the now available vaccination.
Both vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, were tested in tens of thousands of adults, all from diverse backgrounds and including older adults and communities of color. The clinical trial, although shorter than others, proved the vaccines to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Being given in two doses, patients will receive their second vaccine of Moderna 28 days after receiving their first shot, and 21 days after receiving their first shot of Pfizer-BioNTech.
The vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, making it faster to be produced than others on the market. These types of vaccinations do not use the live virus and do not affect or interact with a person’s DNA in any way.
Working in your body like the flu vaccine, mRNA vaccines are expected to produce side effects, especially after the second dose. Although side effects include fever, headache and muscle aches, no significant concerns were identified in clinical trials.
In fact, the first day Ephraim McDowell administered the vaccine to our staff, 90 employees were vaccinated and not one of them reported any issues.
It is my hope that when the vaccine is available to the public, our community will help create the herd immunity we need as a nation and stand up in the fight against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. By doing so, you will help protect your family, friends, and coworkers, and take us the next step forward towards getting back to a more acceptable type of normal life.
Even though we still have a while longer to social distance, wear a mask, and remember the importance of proper hand washing, taking the vaccination when it becomes available gets us all one step closer towards the finish line we are all eagerly waiting for.