COVID-19 Vaccination

Just in time for the holidays, COVID-19 vaccinations are arriving in Oklahoma.

Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

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Top 5 Reasons to Be Excited About the Vaccine

  1. The vaccine did better than expected

    For approval, the FDA set a bar of 50% efficacy. That means that when you vaccinate two people, at least one gets protection from viral infection.

    Pfizer’s preliminary results cleared this standard handily. Analyses indicated the vaccine was more than 90% effective, protecting better than nine of every 10 people who received it.

    Especially because this vaccine relied on an approach never before used in vaccines, experts were wondering about the strength of the immune response it would trigger. And while hopeful, scientists weren’t certain they’d chosen the right protein to target.

    “Well, now we know it’s the right target,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  2. It has a strong safety profile, too

    Pfizer didn’t report any serious safety concerns from the trial.

    Prior to running the current large-scale phase of the study, which involves more than 40,000 research subjects, Pfizer ran a quartet of smaller trials looking specifically at safety. Based on the results of those trials, it chose the dosage of the vaccine that prompted the fewest moderate side effects, such as fatigue, low-grade fever and sore arms.

    The large-scale study is ongoing, so the company will continue to monitor any adverse events. If the vaccine receives FDA approval, which is likely, it will also receive ongoing scrutiny for potential side effects. But based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s no reason to believe there will be any.
  3. FDA approval seems likely, and soon

    To file for emergency approval from the FDA, 164 participants in the trial, which includes folks getting the vaccine and others receiving placebo shots of saline solution, need to contract Covid-19. (This may sound odd, but it’s the threshold data scientists have identified for the results to be statistically reliable in a trial of this size.)

    Pfizer’s preliminary results reported 94 people sickened by the virus. Given the current surge in cases, it’s likely the trial will add another 70 cases within the next few weeks.

    Once that happens, the FDA will use an expedited process to review the application. And so long as efficacy and safety data holds – and there’s no reason to think it won’t – approval before year-end seems a good bet.
  4. Good vaccines can lessen vaccine hesitancy

    Vaccines with relatively low levels of efficacy can magnify people’s reluctance to take them. For instance, the annual flu shot is typically 40% to 60% effective, and in a given year, a bit less than half the U.S. adult population usually opts for a shot.

    But as vaccine protection climbs, the number of people willing to roll up their sleeves does, too. Or, as Dr. Fauci put it in a more pointy-headed way, “Vaccine hesitancy diminishes proportionately inversely with the efficacy of a vaccine.”

    So, if the preliminary data holds up, a vaccine that works in more than nine out of 10 folks should erase some of the wariness we’ve seen in early polls about who will – or won’t – get vaccinated.
  5. More successful vaccines are likely on the way

    Pfizer’s vaccine used what’s known as messenger RNA to block the spike protein, a golf-tee-like protrusion on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The experimental vaccine being developed by the biotech company Moderna is hot on the heels of Pfizer’s in clinical testing, and it uses this same approach.

    Consequently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see similar results, followed by a strong FDA application, from Moderna soon.

    Although other vaccines a bit further back in clinical trials are not using the messenger RNA approach, they likewise target the spike protein. That bodes well for their ultimate chances of success, too.

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Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccine

David Chansolme, M.D., the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at INTEGRIS Health, answers some of the most common questions about the vaccine.

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The Truth About Vaccines

Vaccines have been proven safe. They’re made with weak or dead germs that can’t infect you. And they’ve saved millions of lives and wiped out harmful diseases like smallpox.

Even though these conditions often develop during the time when kids get the most shots, there’s no link. Study after study has cleared up this misconception.

People questioning vaccines are a vocal minority. Taking this important step for your family’s health puts you in good company.

Experts work together to carefully develop immunization schedules. Yes, kids get a lot of vaccines. But evidence shows this strengthens their immune response.

With immunization, you get all the benefits of protection, with none of the downsides of illness. Risks of vaccine-preventable diseases include hospitalization and even death.