While the country finds itself in the midst of the latest surge of COVID-19, promising developments are coming out of the race for a vaccine that will change the course of the pandemic. With vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna being reviewed for distributions under an Emergency Use Authorization and more candidates bound to appear, people are understandably eager to receive the vaccine. With the speed that the vaccine has been developed at causing some potential hesitation and a lot of questions, the CDC has released a breakdown of benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available in an attempt to alleviate concerns and inform the public further.
First and foremost, the vaccine will do exactly what is sounds like: help keep the recipient from getting COVID-19. As with any vaccine, there are
smaller percentages of people who could still get COVID-19 even after being vaccinated, but experts currently believe that the vaccine will help those people from developing serious cases of the virus. Because the virus is so new, there is still so much to learn about it, and this means that people may not know just how the virus will affect them. The vaccine can help protect people from this concern. The speed that the vaccine is being developed has some people concerned about its efficacy and safety, but scientists and medical professionals are carefully evaluating the vaccine candidates in clinical trials, and a candidate will only be approved if there is strong and consistent evidence that it will provide sufficient protection.
A vaccine will help individuals and communities build up protection against the virus itself. When someone gets COVID-19, experts believe that some immunity is gained after the illness passes. However, the length of this natural immunity is still in question and uncertain, and the potential harmful effects of getting the virus, ranging from serious illness to even death, is too serious to consider natural immunity as a viable option. The vaccination, however, will create an antibody response for the recipient and teach the body what to look out for and fight if exposed, all while the recipient does not need to experience the virus itself. An individual receiving the vaccine can also help protect those around them. A significant number of cases are asymptomatic, and people can unknowingly spread the virus to those around them, and it is very possible that one of those people has a preexisting condition or are at a higher risk for a severe case of the virus. By receiving a vaccine, people can limit the chance of them getting COVID-19, as well as passing it to others, regardless of risks.
Ultimately, the vaccine will play a significant role in ending the pandemic. Currently, the CDC and other public health organizations and government officials recommend that people wear masks and practice social distancing to help reduce the chances of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. However, these measures, while good for the time being, are not enough to bring an end to the public health crisis the
world finds itself in. The vaccine will work with the recipient’s immune system to provide a roadmap of how to respond if exposed to the virus, but the current measures in place have no way of directly training the immune system for optimal protection. Once a vaccine is widely available, the public will still have to follow certain public health measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, for some time after to make sure that vaccination is widespread enough for its effects to be felt.
A vaccine is not the cure, but it will be the greatest tool the public has to fight COVID-19. Remember, though, that even if a vaccine is approved, distribution may take some time, with vulnerable populations being prioritized. With news of developments coming at the public from almost every angle, it is understandable to be confused or unsure about what the latest and most accurate information is. Keep an eye on the CDC’s dedicated COVID-19 website for updates and further guidance that will hopefully make everything related to the public health crisis clearer and easier to understand. Sit tight, and with a vaccine hopefully available soon, coupled with the protective measures already in place, the pandemic will eventually be all in the past.
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