At the time of writing, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has reached 21.1 million, with more than 357,000 resulting deaths. Vaccines, a long term strategy, are crucial to stop the pandemic. Currently, two COVID-19 vaccines—one manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, one by Moderna—are authorized for use in the U.S.
Questions have been raised in regard to the availability and safety of COVID-19 vaccination among the general public. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a limited supply of vaccines in the U.S., meaning that a carefully considered allocation plan has to be developed. At the time, different phases of vaccine distribution have been planned out in each state based on federal guidelines. The consensus is to give priority to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents, followed by essential workers and elders above the age of 65 or 70.
The two vaccines are both mRNA vaccines, being carefully tested and monitored for any unanticipated effects. The mechanism, simply explained, is to send mRNA that codes for the production of the coronavirus spike protein (not the entire virus) into people’s cells. The spike protein will be produced, evoking an immune response against it. As a result, the patient’s immune system will remember the shape of the protein and act appropriately when the real coronavirus enters the body.
Many Concord Academy students expressed that as long as safety and availability are ensured, they would be willing to take the vaccine. It has to be noted that the two vaccines have different age limits, reflecting the age groups enrolled in each production’s trials—to take the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, one has to be 18 years or older, while for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the age limit is 16. Therefore, even when vaccination rolls onto the later allocation phases, many CA freshmen and sophomores would not be able to take the vaccine. One student stated that although she is already 16, the fact that she is on the verge of the age limit makes her worried about the vaccine’s efficacy. Other students reflected that since the long term effects are yet unknown, they would be a bit hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Though some hold doubts about the COVID-19 vaccination, current evidence suggests that it is safe for every approved receiver. For now, wearing face masks, keeping socially distanced from one another, and following other daily protective measures are the most important to keep ourselves healthy.