Today I got my first dose of Pfizer. If you had spoken to me a month, or even a week ago, I would have told you that I wasn’t planning on getting the vaccine. Yet here I am with a band-aid on my arm. So, what changed?
I initially had some concerns about the vaccine when it first came out, and the news hype around it didn’t help. Throw in some paranoid relatives who brought up their own theories along with my own natural skepticism, and I was sure that I didn’t need to get the vaccine, especially since I am not in a risk group. However, doing some heavy research and talking to people with first-hand experience shifted my thinking. I thought that I would lay it all out here for you, so you can make an informed decision for yourself!
Concern: This vaccine was developed really fast—how can we know that it’s actually safe?
Fact Check: The delivery system used in the Covid vaccine utilizes mRNA rather than giving us a dead or weakened virus (the way that most vaccines have been administered in the past). This is a pretty efficient way to make a vaccine, and, surprisingly, it has actually been in the works for many years. Therefore, the scientists did not have to invent a new way of delivering vaccines in weeks, but rather took full advantage of what they were already testing and studying.
In addition to using this (new to the public) system, scientists have studied coronaviruses for years, which means they have vast amounts of data at their disposal and did not need to take years and years to study it. Because of the globally dire situation, data was also shared freely among the scientific community, which led to a much faster development than just one company working on their own. This was also helped by the millions of dollars in funding that was given by the government to reach a speedy vaccine, which is not normally the case for other vaccines.
Finally, the speedy delivery of the vaccine was helped by companies making large quantities of the vaccine before it was officially approved, therefore having it ready to go the second that approval was given. All of these things cut down on the time for the vaccine tremendously, which to a skeptical, outside viewer, can definitely seem suspicious. When you break it down, though, it’s actually quite logical!
Concern: This vaccine uses mRNA which enters our cells—doesn’t this alter our DNA?
Fact Check: The mRNA system works by using mRNA to enter our immune cell wall. However, this mRNA does NOT enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is stored. Therefore, it cannot alter our DNA in any way.
This mRNA acts like a map or set of instructions that directs our immune cells to make the same spike protein that sets Covid apart from other viruses. The mRNA gets broken down by the cell after the protein is made, and the protein is moved to the surface of the immune cell. There, it is recognized by the body as foreign, and our immune system starts making antibodies to fight against it. Hence, when the real Covid virus enters our bodies, it is immediately attacked, which is what we want!
Concern: I’ve heard that the Covid Vaccine causes infertility—I definitely don’t want to risk my future children.
Fact Check: This notion came from the fact that the Covid spike protein and a protein involved in the growth of the placenta are similar. In reality, these proteins only share a short sequence of genetic code, which is not enough to make the antibodies think that the placenta is the virus. It’s like blocking your ex-boyfriend’s number on your phone—just because his number starts with 7, your phone isn’t going to block everyone’s number that starts with 7—our bodies are too sophisticated for that!
Concern: I’ve heard that the ingredients used to make the vaccines contain known toxic substances—why would I put those things into my body?
Fact Check: Toxic substances are usually only toxic when ingested in large quantities, or in smaller regular doses that add up over time before our body has a chance to process and get rid of them. The Covid vaccines contain genetic material, fats to make our bodies absorb that material, and saline (salt) solution. None of these ingredients are toxic.
In other vaccines, there are trace amounts of things such as formaldehyde, mercury, and aluminum. However, these compounds are consumed by humans on a regular basis via things like apples, tuna, and our deodorant, respectively, and the amount in the vaccines is less than what we normally would ingest, and is taken care of quite quickly by our bodies.
Concern: There have been a lot of reports about terrible side effects and even death for people who got the vaccine—why would I risk that?
Fact Check: When viewing deaths after a vaccine is given, people often forget that there is already an “expected” or “normal” death rate for the population as a whole, and adjusted “normal” death rate for certain high risk groups. Most, if not all, of the vaccine deaths can be attributed to the expected death rates that would happen with or without the vaccine. One thing that people without a scientific background oftentimes fail to understand is that correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because Event A happens after Event B, this does not mean that Event B caused Event A.
While I would hesitate to proclaim that the vaccine has cause ZERO deaths because those who died could have an underlying condition that was triggered by receiving the vaccine, I believe that most of the deaths were not a direct result of getting the vaccine. And if you want to look at it statistically speaking, you have a higher chance of dying if you contract the actual virus than dying from the vaccine (which again, just to reiterate, has not been found as of yet to directly cause death).
Concern: Why should I gamble on a vaccine when I’m not in a high risk group?
Reality Check: I was firmly in this camp—I don’t even get the flu shot! However, I was talking with a friend (who happens to be in the medical field) and she was detailing how another mutual friend of ours who, like us, is not in any risk bracket, but is still battling lingering affects of contracting the virus: shortness of breath, racing heart, and numbness/pain that comes and goes on one side of her body. To me, that was all I needed to make the decision that the teeny tiny chance of side effects from the vaccine is less of a risk than potentially contracting the full virus and effing myself up for months or (oh god) years.
Overall, I am content with my decision to receive the vaccine. I feel good about the research that I did and the answers that I found. Unfortunately, fear of the unknown is not always a rational beast, and I encourage everyone to do their own REAL research and make up their own mind! I’ve included links that I used to get you started. Let me know what you decide!