A little over one year after the CoViD-19 pandemic latched its spikes to 219 nations and territories, vaccines are now finally available. Thanks to the commitment, collaboration and diligence of research scientists worldwide, the nature of the disease-causing pathogen had been identified, and seven different vaccines have now been rolled out.
With 359 million available doses and counting, front liners are already being vaccinated to gain protection from the virus. In countries worldwide, the priority for vaccination is being given to the most vulnerable members of the population.
The roll-out of these vaccines, however, are not without controversy. There are confusions and misunderstandings about the vaccines that are now available.
Statistics in most countries show that some members of the population are willing to receive them. However, some are hesitant and are not ready to be vaccinated.
Questions regarding the vaccines abound, along with a concoction of cautionary tales regarding their reception.
If you are one of many others who would like to know more about these CoViD 19 vaccines available, read on as we answer queries such as the following:
- What is a vaccine, and how does it work?
- Are vaccines important?
- Are the available CoViD 19 vaccines safe and effective?
- Should we be vaccinated or not?
So, without further ado, here is all you need to know about CoViD 19 vaccines compiled in one place:
What is a vaccine, and how does it work?
Let us start with something more general. Let us define what a vaccine is and provide some background about it.
Vaccines are one of the most efficient health interventions ever discovered by men and women of Science. Beginning with Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine in 1796 to this year’s CoViD 19 vaccine, there had already been hundreds of vaccines made available to humans for a wide variety of disease-causing pathogens.
A vaccine, as defined by the CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a medical commodity that arouses a person’s immune system. It helps to build immunity to a distinct illness, thereby protecting the person from that disease.
We can say then that to have immunity, we need to have a much-needed protection against an infectious disease like CoViD 19. If you are immune to CoViD 19, you can be exposed to it without becoming infected.
But do we need a vaccine to have immunity?
Our body has a natural protection system from most known disease-causing pathogens. This protection is called the immune system. However, it needs to recognize the invading pathogen for this natural protection or immune system to work.
CoViD 19 is a new and emerging disease, and our immune system is not yet familiar with the pathogen that causes it. This is where a vaccine for CoViD 19 comes in.
CoViD-19 vaccines function by teaching our immune systems on how to recognize and fight the virus that causes CoViD-19. Once we are vaccinated, our immune system gets reinforcement in identifying the disease-causing pathogen and defends the body against it.
Are vaccines important?
Now that we know what a vaccine is and how it works, it is time to explore whether our body needs a vaccine or not.
Most children are vaccinated at an early age. The elderly are also vaccinated for certain diseases. In both age group, the vaccines that they take to protect them from known disease-causing pathogens.
The following are reasons why vaccines are important:
Vaccines protect from infectious and dangerous diseases. They bolster our immune system by tricking it into making antibodies – proteins that attack the bacteria or virus whenever they are present.
Vaccines protect the vulnerable. The most vulnerable members of the community are the young children and the elderly. Vaccines work by bolstering our immune systems early and late in life. Notice that most vaccines are given to young children and aged men and women.
Vaccines help limit drug resistance. When antibiotics, medicines that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria, are overused or misused, pathogens become resistant to them. By preventing infections that require drug treatments, vaccines can lessen the chance for drug resistance to develop.
Vaccines promote herd immunity. Population growth, international travels, migration, and various ecological changes have enabled emerging infectious diseases to spread and bring harm to people in different countries. Vaccines help manage this threat by promoting herd immunity. Herd immunity is the indirect defence of a population from an infectious disease when a society becomes resistant to the disease through vaccination or immunity developed from a previous infection.
Are available CoViD 19 vaccines safe?
So, vaccines are essential. CoViD 19 vaccines, in particular, seem very important, especially for the population of affected countries to develop herd immunity from the disease.
How sure are we that these available CoViD 19 vaccines are effective and, more importantly, safe?
That may be a tricky question to answer but let us try based on reliable and well-documented primary sources. The following are the reasons why we think they are safe:
Manufacturing Protocols. All vaccines are developed by following scientifically established, proven and tested routines, processes and procedures. The World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC and other related agencies ensure that safety is the top priority in making them.
Scientific Studies. International studies show that the CoViD-19 vaccines being currently rolled out are both safe and effective. These vaccines have the potential to keep us from getting sick with CoViD-19. A vaccinated person will also not be seriously ill even if exposed and infected. However, the same international studies also show that these available CoViD 19 vaccines being rolled out have side effects. These side effects include experiencing chills and tiredness, among others.
Momentary Side Effects. The observed side effects that people experience after vaccination are typical signs that our body is building protection. These may affect our ability to do daily activities, but they are momentary and are expected to be gone in a few days.
Clinical Trials. All vaccines that are already available for mass distribution were rigorously examined and tested first. They have undergone multiple phases of clinical trials before they are approved and licensed for distribution and use.
Regular Assessments. Even after roll-out, vaccines are continuously being examined and regularly re-assessed. Health experts from WHO and other related agencies monitor data from different sources to signify that a vaccine may cause health risks and complications.
Can everyone get vaccinated?
So, aside from being critical, the vaccines are also effective and safe. Can everyone get vaccinated then?
While almost everyone can be vaccinated, some are not advised to take the vaccines due to some underlying conditions. Experts say that those who are in any of the following categories should not be vaccinated:
- People with critical and life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients
- People who are pregnant and breastfeeding
- People who have tested positive for CoViD 19
- People with chronic illnesses or undergoing treatments like chemotherapy
- People with severe disease or febrile on the time of vaccination
- Children and adolescents
Now, to the bottom line:
Should we get vaccinated or not?
The answer should be well thought. So, think about it for as long as you can. Consider, however, that while CoViD 19 can be life-threatening, a vaccine, on the other hand, can protect us from exposure to something like it that may cause serious illness, disability or even death.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccines save between two and 3 million lives each year.
Here are two important reasons we should consider getting vaccinated: to protect ourselves and protect those around us.
As mentioned above, not every one of us can be vaccinated. Young babies and persons who are seriously ill are depending on others being vaccinated to ensure that they are also safe from the disease. Let us not fail them.