Be patient, be wary of misinformation. Know that by getting vaccinated you’re helping to contain the spread of the virus.
Get the COVID-19 Vaccine. Here’s Why.
After what was undoubtedly one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory, 2021 is already looking up. Starting with good news and a big sigh of relief. The FDA approval of two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in the U.S. means the end of the coronavirus pandemic might finally be in sight. This is welcome news. COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, more than 7,600 Louisianans died from COVID in 2020. That is greater than the number of deaths caused by accidents, strokes, and diabetes combined.
FDA authorization and approval of the drugs produced by Moderna and Pfizer means the trials have proven both vaccines to be a safe and effective defense against COVID-19.
“The vaccine is very safe and none of my patients who have received it have experienced any serious side effects,” says Dr. Brandon Tilley, a practicing physician at St. Francis Primary Care. “Every person who gets vaccinated is helping to prevent the virus from continuing to spread.”
How Many People Need to Be Vaccinated?
As the vaccine becomes more widely available during the coming months, the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible. Vaccinated people act as barriers that prevent the virus from continuing to spread. Mass vaccination is the quickest way for the population to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity is the point at which the number of people who have developed immunity will result in slowing the easy spread of the virus.
How many is enough? According to the Cleveland Clinic, between 50% and 80% of people will need to get vaccinated in order for the population to reach the herd immunity threshold. In a December interview for CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that the threshold is closer to the 70% to 85% range.
A New Approach to Vaccines
Traditional vaccines help people develop immunity by imitating an infection. However Messenger RNA vaccines are different. They do not use a weakened, live, or dead virus at all. Instead, these vaccines introduce a protein similar to those found on the surface of the virus causing COVID-19. This stimulates an immune response in your body and produces antibodies. Those antibodies are produced without ever actually being exposed to COVID-19.
The mRNA vaccine does not affect or interact with your DNA. Because scientists have already spent decades researching mRNA vaccines, they have been able to develop the COVID-19 vaccine in record-setting time. These vaccines can be produced in a laboratory using readily available materials. The entire scenario has made these vaccines relatively faster to produce.
Practicing Vaccine Patience
Everyone will have the opportunity to get vaccinated. The Louisiana Department of Health is following the COVID-19 vaccination strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The CDC strategy has been tailored to Louisiana’s specific needs.
As doses of the vaccine are gradually distributed across the country, eligibility is decided based on a prioritization system. The prioritization system moves the most essential and vulnerable to the front of the line. In most cases, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities have already received the first doses of the vaccine. The next tier will be essential workers, people with certain pre-existing conditions, and those who are 70 and older. The vaccine should become more widely available to members of the general population later this spring.
“West Feliciana is a safer place to live when there is a high vaccination rate,” Dr. Tilley says. “We hope that everyone will get the vaccine when it is available to them.”