Vaccine fence sitter no more

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Dear Editor:

About six months ago I was asked if I was going to take the Corona virus vaccine when it became available. My reply was, “Nah, I’ll let some other people get it first and see what side effects they have. It’s kind of getting rushed through I think.”

Then I started reading the science research printed in The Lancet (British medical journal) and the New England Journal of Medicine that said the protection was 92-95% after getting the two shots from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations. I listened to a podcast from a respected virologist who explained that while the emergency use authorization appears to be rushed, it is not.

Different pharmaceutical companies have been working on developing a Corona virus vaccine for SARS and MERS (both Corona viruses) since they showed up 8-10 years go. Because those drug company research labs were competing for funding against other developing medications/vaccines and they were in their own “knowledge silos,” there wasn’t huge research progress.

Then BAM! The Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 epidemic hit us all. Vaccine researchers across the world started talking and sharing research with each other; governments world-wide poured almost unlimited money into finding the correct recipe for making an effective vaccine. The researchers didn’t have to start from ground zero though, because of their prior vaccination work on the Corona viruses. The actual clinical trials proving effectiveness were NOT rushed and corners were not cut. As a highly respected virologist at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Andrew Badley, said “What was not fast-tracked was enrollment of patients, clinical follow-up of these patients, capturing the events which occurred and the follow-up. These trials were executed very well. But the regulatory steps were fasttracked.”

My sister, a RN-Nurse Practitioner who survived leukemia with a bone marrow transplant, was urged by her transplant doctor to get the Coronavirus vaccination as soon as she could. After looking at all the scientific information, I was a fence sitter no more. For me, getting vaccinated made sense. I am eagerly awaiting my second shot and soon after, my life will be more “normal” and I can travel again. I will still follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask, socially distance, and wash my hands frequently, but I will no longer worry that I nor my sister will be on a ventilator and at risk of dying.

Dr. Joan Dickson