Catawba County News
Vaccination is a Way to Reach a Common Goal - Together
Published: March 16, 2021
By Jennifer McCracken
Catawba County Public Health Director
As I look back on the past year, there is a classic Bob Dylan song that keeps coming back to me. And even though it first came out in the mid-60s, its words ring true for the incredible year we’ve had as a community, as a state, a nation and the globe.
“You’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, oh the times, they are a-changin…”
Change has been all around us for the past year. But Catawba County hasn’t been swimming alone through all this change. As in the Olympics, this is a relay team. Vaccinations are the next leg of the relay so we can all get back to normal again.
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. Vaccine developers were able to build safe vaccines in a short period of time, thanks to the head-start gained through research and development of vaccines in recent years for other vaccines. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology, which has been studied before for flu, Zika and rabies. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses more traditional technology and is built off an adenovirus – the virus that causes the common cold. In the end, both technologies teach the body how to recognize and protect itself from the COVID-19 germ.
One important similarity, no matter the technology, is that there is no COVID-19 virus in any of the vaccines. The vaccines simply imitate the infection so that our bodies think a germ like the virus is attacking. This creates the antibody defenses we need to fight off COVID-19 if or when we come into contact with the real germ later on.
All three of the authorized vaccines available in the U.S. were able to be developed quickly because vaccine developers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) all placed it as their highest priority. The FDA also cleared some administrative delays, allowing the COVID-19 vaccine to essentially skip the line and come under review immediately. This allowed the development and authorization processes to move forward without delay and without cutting corners.
The FDA has a longstanding process for ensuring all vaccines are safe and effective, and COVID-19 vaccines must go through and pass clinical trials like other drugs and vaccines. At no point in the process are manufacturers or the FDA allowed to skip any steps. Tens of thousands of people participated in clinical trials for the three currently available vaccines to see if they are safe and effective. No major safety concerns were found by people in the trials, manufacturers or the FDA.
All three of the currently available vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, even with the different variants that have emerged recently. This is why the CDC recommends that people get the first vaccine available to them and to not hold out for one over the other.
There are two main reasons for getting the vaccine – for your own health and for the health of others.
COVID-19 is a tricky illness, in that some people experience only mild symptoms, while others experience severe illness that can cause hospitalization and death. Some people who have it recover quickly, while others deal with long-term effects for months afterward. And more than half of the adults in our community are affected by at least one chronic condition, which puts them at higher risk of complications from COVID.
Because we can’t predict who or how COVID will strike, it is advised that everyone get vaccinated. Every vaccination that is administered represents one fewer person who is at risk of experiencing severe illness or death from COVID-19 or of spreading it to someone more vulnerable.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, but the times are changing for the better... If we all keep swimming in the right direction, by getting vaccinated and continuing to follow prevention guidance, we can reach that common goal together.