The COVID-19 pandemic has continued for longer than any of us thought it would. I was sitting in my childhood home last May thinking we would recover by fall 2020 and I would be able to go back to school. Wow, was I wrong. Nevertheless, there is a lot of confusing information right now about the pandemic and hesitation around getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people are saying not wearing masks is completely fine, and others are saying that we need to continue to quarantine like we were in March 2020. What do we really need to do? We need to continue to stay updated on what information is coming out regarding the virus and the guidelines, and understand that it is okay to update our comfort level regarding the virus as new information is presented.
Vaccinations dropped after the pause of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on April 13. Health experts do not think the pause is the only reason for the decline in overall vaccinations, according to the New York Times. They say it was a decline they were expecting to see as those eager to get the vaccine would have already received it by this time.
The important part to highlight with the J&J vaccine is that blood clots only occurred in eight of the 7.4 million people who received it. Seven of the eight had blood clots in the brain. I understand the concern, but it is incredibly rare. Nothing similar has happened with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, so go to a provider that is providing those vaccines rather than the J&J vaccine.
Some people are not getting their second dose of the vaccine. While it is currently only 5% of the Texas population, it will continue to grow as more people receive their first dose.
“Health experts say fears of side effects, an inability to take time off of work or incorrectly thinking that a single dose is enough all might be contributing factors to why some are skipping their second dose,” The Texas Tribune reports. While side effects might happen, and people may not be able to take time off work, the single dose is not enough to be fully protected from the virus. All studies done with all the COVID-19 vaccines were conducted with both doses, except for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is only a one-dose vaccine.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine makes someone infertile or that it will affect pregnancy in the future. The vaccine does not change or interact with your DNA in any way. There are two types of vaccines: messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and a viral vector vaccine.
“Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the CDC.
Another aspect people are worried about is variants. At The University of Texas at Austin, there are the B.1.1.7, the B.1.429, and P.1 variants. With these variants, health experts are not sure whether the vaccine will ultimately protect us against the variants. Ultimately the vaccine is going to protect us against some of the COVID-19, which decreases hospitalizations and gets us closer to “normal.”
Where we are headed
Nearly 150,000 Americans are fully vaccinated including more than a quarter of Texans, but we have to continue going to get to herd immunity and get closer to moving back to normal. The Biden administration announced May 4 that they plan to get 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4. To reach the rest of the population, leaders of vaccination sites must change their focus to get vaccine access to those who might not already have it.
All in all if you take nothing else from this article, please go get vaccinated.