The world looks a lot different than it did a year ago. Lockdown restrictions and mask mandates have scaled back nationwide, stores and restaurants are operating near full capacity, and gatherings of friends and family are resuming once again. Society seems to be getting ever closer to “normal”, and it’s all thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine. While the initial vaccine rollout was limited to certain priority groups, it is now easier than ever to make a vaccine appointment. Alabama governor Kay Ivey has publicly voiced her support for the COVID vaccine, urging Alabamians to book their vaccine appointment as soon as possible. For those who are still hesitant about getting the COVID vaccine, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
In the past several weeks, health professionals worldwide have seen an uptick in cases of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus strain. As of early July, the Delta variant has been reported to be the dominant COVID strain in the United States, making up 52% of the national infection rate. The Delta variant possesses distinct mutations on its spike protein, allowing the virus to infect human cells with more ease than the original COVID strain. Thus, the Delta variant is considered to be up to 50% MORE contagious than the original COVID-19 strain.
With the Delta variant spreading throughout the country, hospitals are seeing higher numbers of COVID infected patients. According to Yale Medicine, the Delta variant poses the highest risk to unvaccinated individuals and communities as a whole. Researchers noted that the most prominent spikes in infection rates have been found in Midwest and Southern states, such as Missouri and Arkansas, where there are a significant number of unvaccinated individuals and communities. Moreover, the Delta variant is not only a threat to unvaccinated adults - the infection rates in children and young adults from the Delta variant are higher than the original COVID strain.
For vaccinated individuals, the Delta variant poses far less of a threat. According to scientists at Public Health England, two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are reported to be 88% effective against Delta variant infection and 96% effective against hospitalization. In addition to the first two doses, it’s been reported that Pfizer has submitted a request to the FDA to get authorization to send out a “booster” dose of the COVID vaccine as soon as August. Vaccinated individuals are far more protected from the new COVID variants than the unvaccinated, but it is still recommended to wear face masks when applicable to prevent further spreading of the virus.
One of the major points of contention regarding the COVID vaccine is its relatively quick development. There are those who claim the vaccine was “rushed” and its long-term effects are yet to be reported due to the swift mass rollout. However, there are several factors that made it possible for the vaccine to be produced and approved by the FDA in such a timely fashion.
COVID-19 is classified as a coronavirus, a family of viruses that have been studied for over 50 years. Scientists knew from past research that the spike protein of a coronavirus could be targeted by a vaccine, giving them a clear goal to work toward as they developed a vaccine. Additionally, the mRNA vaccine platform utilized to create the COVID vaccine had been in development for 10 years, with the technology and manufacturing facilities already in place.
The clinical trials had no trouble recruiting participants and the FDA had already approved past studies on mRNA vaccines, allowing the research teams to overlap clinical trials in some cases. Though the FDA approval process can take up to 9 months for many products, the vaccine was allowed an expedited approval timeline. The expedited workflow required employees on parallel teams to work day and night, seven days a week, as there was no room for error in approving these vaccines.
In short, the vaccines are society’s best shot at ending this pandemic. Getting the vaccine will help keep you and your family safe from the new strains of COVID-19, and will aid in lowering hospitalization rates nationwide.
Do your part - get your vaccine today.
The world looks a lot different than it did a year ago. Lockdown restrictions and mask mandates have scaled back nationwide, stores and restaurants are operating near full capacity, and gatherings of friends and family are resuming once again. Society seems to be getting ever closer to “normal”, and it’s all thanks to the COVID-19…