Hopefully the last COVID-19 article you will read

Hopefully+the+last+COVID-19+article+you+will+read

Kathleen McElroy, Content Editor

Since the beginning of 2020, the only event I have repeatedly seen on the news is the COVID-19 outbreak. From the controversial opinions on where the virus originated from to the numerous ways to avoid contracting COVID-19, the research and coverage on COVID-19 seems endless. It seems like no matter which newspaper I read or which app I open, all I see is the virus and how it has negatively affected the globe: people losing their jobs, large gatherings being cancelled, and saddest of all, the amount of lives that have been lost. The word  “COVID-19” used to make me feel a sense of sadness when I saw it in the news, and I knew that no matter what the article was about, there was no chance it would describe something positive. Until very recently. 

The goal of the COVID-19 vaccines was for everyone to receive it and have immunities, however, not everyone has been able to immediately get it or receive it at the same time. To solve this problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created different phases in regards to the order in which Americans would get the vaccine first. Although there were lots of mixed opinions about the credibility and safety of vaccines at first, the near-majority of Americans are planning on getting the vaccine. So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49.9% of Americans have gotten a vaccine shot, and around 40% of the population has gotten completely vaccinated. To prevent more chaos from erupting, the CDC created phases based on jobs and ages, and the phases determined an order in which people were to get the vaccine. The first phase was phase 1a, which included healthcare workers and permanent/long-term care workers. These are the people that are most at risk due to their job. They are frontline workers who risk their lives to save others. The second phase was phase 1b, which includes seniors older than 75 and essential workers (nurses, physicians, dentists, etc). Lastly, there was phase 1c, which included younger senior citizens (from age 65-age 74), the remainder of the essential workers from phase 1b, and people over the age of 16 with high-risk health conditions.

Photo credit: AAMC

In mid-April, the vaccine became available for Californians over the age of 16, while those with severe health conditions were still prioritized. The CDC quotes that “older adults are at a greater risk of requiring hospitalization or dying if they are diagnosed with COVID-19,” so for younger people who don’t share the same fear as the older generations, the main appeals for getting vaccinated are the social benefits and the benefit of protecting other people. Although most parents have become more and more lenient about letting their children socialize in groups, a greater feeling of safety will arise when they are able to feel the same comfort they did during the pre-pandemic years. The second benefit to getting vaccinated is the ability to protect your loved ones and the outside community. COVID-19 has affected adults more than children, and although there is no guarantee children won’t get severely sick, the vast majority of serious COVID-19 cases have been with adults. As seen in the chart created by the CDC (shown below), the death rates and hospitalization rates increase as the patient’s age increases, installing less of the worried panic that older citizens share. 

Photo credit: CDC

While this is relatively good news for children, it doesn’t mean that children are free to do whatever they please, as children can be transmitters of the disease as well. Physically getting the vaccine is very important, as the vaccine aims to prevent you from getting the virus. Masks also protect you from transmitting the virus to others, however with the additional help of the vaccine, the chances of you getting the virus and transferring it to someone else are reduced. 

Hopefully, with the vaccine being more and more available, COVID-19 will soon be a story in the past. If you haven’t already gotten vaccinated, most health department clinics, urgent cares, and pharmacies offer vaccinations, and specific local schools, workplaces, and religious centers may also have vaccinations available. To make the process easier, a website has been created (https://www.vaccines.gov/search/) to find areas near you that offer the vaccine. You are able to enter your zip code and set a specific radius in order to find a testing location near you, while also selecting which vaccine you want based on personal preference and age restrictions. The three vaccine options you are able to choose from are Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine available for teenagers between the ages of 12-18, but Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen are  available for anyone over the age of 18.  Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are vaccines that create surface proteins to enter the body to replicate a foreign virus entering the body, allowing the immune system to create antibodies. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine creates an adenovirus to enter the body, which is the virus that creates colds or gives you the flu-like systems that you get when you are sick, however the particular adenovirus in the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine makes it impossible to cause illnesses in your body. Once the adenovirus is in the patient’s body, the body is able to learn how to make spike proteins and eventually create antibodies. 

I strongly urge you to find time to decide which vaccine is best for you and to find time to go to a location near you to get vaccinated. With your participation, our country will be one more step towards normality, and eventually, life will be relatively normal again! Remember, you aren’t doing this just for yourself, as your contribution will be helping the community as a whole and inspire others around you to also take a step in the right direction. 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations-process.html#:~:text=In%20Phase%201b%2C%20COVID,included%20in%20Phase%201b.   

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-vaccine-what-parents-need-to-know#:~:text=Like%20adults%2C%20children%20also%20can,friends%20who%20may%20be%20susceptible.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/28/covid-19-cases-deaths-vaccinations-daily-update.html 

https://www.statnews.com/2021/02/02/comparing-the-covid-19-vaccines-developed-by-pfizer-moderna-and-johnson-johnson/ 

Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization