When the vaccines arrive, just take them

January 6, 2021 — by Shaan Sridhar and Shreya Rallabandi

The Statue of Liberty holds up the COVID-19 vaccine, America’s new hope.

346,000 deaths and 20,026,000 cases in under 10 months. Widespread lockdowns. School closures accompanied with a record unemployment. COVID-19 has plunged the U.W. into the darkest period many of us have known.

The good news amid all this gloom is that hope is on the horizon in the form of multiple safe and effective vaccines. The state of California has received  over 2 million doses of vaccines prior to the year’s end. Despite the seemingly miraculous potential to return society to normal, 42 percent of America doesn’t want to take the vaccine.

There is no rational reason so many people are now anti-vaccine nuts. For the love of America, please be smart and just take the vaccine.

There are currently four major frontrunners in vaccine development in the United States — namely Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson. All are in the final stages of vaccine creation; Pfizer received FDA approval on Dec. 11, and Moderna received FDA approval on Dec. 17.

These vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, as opposed to previous vaccines which used diluted versions of the virus. The new process allowed pharmaceutical companies to create a new plug-and-play vaccine, shortening the development process from multiple years to a mere 10 months.

These four vaccines have undergone multiple phases of testing, including large scale Phase 3 clinical trials, for which they have all delivered promising results. One of Pfizer’s trials, for example, testing over 44,000 participants, displayed a 95% effectiveness rate; similarly, a Moderna trial displayed a 94.5% effectiveness rate. Neither vaccine had any major side effects and are practically risk-free.

These results are proof positive of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. To emphasize just how trustworthy these vaccines are, compare them to the flu vaccine. One of the most widely taken vaccines in America, it has a 40-60 percent efficacy, a number that pales in comparison to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Even after the vaccines have passed intense trials, they will still have to go through a rigorous regulatory process at the FDA to receive approval.

Despite these scientific precautions, non-scientists and vaccine-refusers have doubted the safety of the vaccine, especially considering the speedy timeline by which it was developed — in under a year, to be exact — when vaccines usually take five to 10 years to be developed. The coronavirus vaccine, however, was completed in such a short period of time due to existing coronavirus and mRNA research, and it advanced by help from Operation Warp Speed.

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is the government program created to accelerate the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. Some who doubt OWS’ legitimacy press the belief that the White House politicized the vaccine, making it unsafe. These opponents argue that the uncertainty and abstraction surrounding OWS is concerning.

In reality, OWS is a joint effort between multiple long-standing government institutions, including the FDA, Pentagon and Department of Health and Human Services. 

OWS does use government money to help fund vaccines. Companies such as Moderna received billions of dollars for research purposes in exchange for promising to make millions of vaccine doses for the United States. Other companies, like Pfizer, for example, which already has billions of dollars in existing balance, did not take research money and instead only agreed to a production contract with OWS.

While OWS does report to the White House, the Trump administration did not make or approve vaccines; thus, they have little impact on the safety of a vaccine. OWS merely provides funding and logistical assistance to companies. Federal agents sent out by OWS were invaluable in locating a specialized pump (which was essential for Moderna’s trials) in a delayed transport train and getting the equipment to the company. In fact, OWS actually intervened in Moderna’s vaccine trials because it was not representative of enough ethnic minorities.

Some may point to Pfizer’s comments about the politicization of the vaccines from OWS. Pfizer’s comments, however, stated that they didn’t take OWS research funds as they were concerned that politicization from the White House would slow down the vaccine development: The safety of the vaccine due to OWS involvement was not a concern.

To ensure global safety, this vaccine requires a concerted effort from all Americans — frankly, from the entire world. The vaccines are being driven by science, not Democrats or Republicans. Yes, politicians may be in charge of the vaccine’s distribution, yet they will be working together towards a common goal. From President Trump to Governor Newsom, everyone’s hands should be on deck to effectively and safely implement a vaccine in America. It’s beyond silly to even think otherwise.

Taking the vaccine isn’t just a preventionary option; it’s a moral responsibility. By not taking it, you actively endanger your community. There is no reason Americans should be weary of the vaccine. So, when it becomes available to you, please take the vaccine. Help end this pandemic.