Our Only Hope for the End

When a Coronavirus vaccine becomes available to you, will you take it? This question is resting on the minds of hundreds of millions of Americans, as three strong vaccine candidates have emerged with the FDA’s emergency mark of approval expected very shortly in the United States. The three leading candidates, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca have shown that their vaccines produce strong immune responses in the vast majority of their trial volunteers, with slightly varying degrees of effectiveness. Pfizer and Moderna, both companies based in the U.S., currently have vaccine candidates that have been shown to be nearly 95% effective against COVID-19. 

While many Americans are cheering on the success of the vaccine trials, others are wary of potential side effects they may encounter. But many infectious disease experts throughout the country are encouraged by the vaccine trial results, and are encouraging people to take them as soon as they become publicly available. The vaccines have already each been tested in tens of thousands of subjects, and none of them have had highly adverse or unusual side effects thus far. To this point, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the most common side effects in Moderna’s trial “included fatigue in 9.7% of participants, muscle pain in 8.9%, joint pain in 5.2%, and headache in 4.5%. In the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, the numbers were lower: Severe side effects included fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2%).”

While these side effects are more common and more pronounced than your typical influenza vaccine, many experts believe the benefits far outweigh the temporary drawbacks. Come this spring, many Americans will have two options: 1). Take a vaccine, which has been shown to have a chance of headache and fatigue in a considerable portion of its recipients, or 2). Continue to be at risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus, which has been shown to cause a wide range of unpleasant symptoms in a large portion of the people it infects, along with the chance of being hospitalized or even dying. Given the havoc COVID-19 can wreak upon the human body, an effective vaccination that comes along with the risk of some side effects is a promising alternative.

Unless we can put an end to the virus within our country through the means of masks and social distancing, which have so far been incapable of preventing infection in millions upon millions of Americans, vaccines are the only feasible option we have to save countless lives and are truly our only hope for the end of COVID-19. As long as enough people are willing to take the vaccine, the eventual return to the sense of normalcy we so desperately miss is just over horizon.