With COVID-19 vaccines beginning to become available, many are deciding if and when they will be interested in taking it themselves. As the world watched an extraordinarily rapid development process paired with political dialogue on the topic, some have drawn their own conclusions that contribute to hesitancy or even rejection of the vaccine. However, experts in vaccine safety who have studied the new COVID-19 vaccines have found that they are safe and effective, meaning we finally have a crucial tool to mitigate this pandemic – unless people don’t use it.
Adding to the danger of vaccine hesitancy is the speed at which misinformation and non-evidence-based data can spread, due to its ability to stoke fear and shape opinions that are not based in fact or science. As part of the research and approval process, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adhere to multiple levels of regulations and safety measures while providing transparent and publicly available evidence outlining the findings of research studies that illustrate the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
“We trust the FDA and CDC to guide us on the authorization or approval and recommendations for the vaccines, such as how to administer them, who is the right target and other details,” said Jeffrey Kuhlman, MD, MPH, chief quality and safety officer for AdventHealth. “The information available suggests the first set of vaccines available are the safest and most effective in vaccine development history. Unlike measles or historic polio, which were live viruses, the modern vaccines stimulate the body’s natural immune system with inactive RNA [ribonucleic acid] mimicking the virus.”
As COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously approved as safe and effective, a phased rollout has commenced that helps ensure an equitable prioritization based on the exposure risk and vulnerability of various populations. The CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has outlined recommendations for this prioritization here.
Through unparalleled collaboration between health care, governmental agencies, the business community and many thousands of Americans who volunteered as study participants, the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine marks a major milestone in humanity’s ability to ward off this virus and begin a path to recovery and healing. Where the pandemic goes from here is up to the responsibility of each individual.