Randi Kay | COVID Vaccine, Part 3

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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The are still questions that need to be answered about the vaccine before it becomes more appealing. Many Americans are old enough to have had more than one version or round of the shingles vaccine, the Hepatitis B vaccine, the pneumonia vaccine and even the measles vaccine. Many of us who are skeptical are not “anti-vaxers.” Recently it was reported that the vaccine is “90% effective.” What exactly does that mean? Does that mean it is 90% effective in initiating an immune response to introduction of the virus or 90% effective in preventing a viral infection? How long does the vaccine, if it prevents infection, last? 

It may be too soon to answer those questions because not enough time has passed since the end of the trials (if they have ended) to give us those answers. There are anecdotal reports of individuals being infected more than once. However, we don’t know whether those cases were actual infections or false positives. It seems that immunity after natural infection with COVID-19 may wane quickly. How will this vaccine prevent this? What will happen if the vaccine only confers immunity for a few months? Will we need to get it several times a year to ensure we remain immune? 

The costs of that would be prohibitive and a logistical nightmare. Is it possible that there are several strains of the virus and the vaccine is effective against only one strain? Will the vaccine evolve to one similar to the flu where recipients will receive a vaccine that addresses either the top two most deadly or most widespread strains that are predicted to occur in the upcoming year? We need the scientific community to weigh in on these questions as soon as possible to ensure that the public has accurate, scientific, evidence-based answers to our questions. We would be most appreciative of their input. At that time we will be better able to make an informed decision. 

And again, it is up to every one of us to slow the spread of coronavirus by wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, covering a cough or sneeze and washing your hands frequently. 

Randi Kay


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