In this day and age of social media and digital communications, it is easy for anyone to create what they
consider “news.” Usually, the information is presented as fact and the person(s) presenting the “news”
can either truly believe what they are saying or may be spreading false news on purpose. In either case,
most of the “news” against getting vaccinated are opinions or fear. We all need to take a deep breath,
sit back, and think about the following: who should we trust? The answer is simple – it is not a who but
a what! It’s data! Scientifically collected data! Please remember that if lies and myths about
vaccination continue to spread to the point where a large percentage of people decides not to get
vaccinated, even more people will die. It doesn’t matter whether one is a teacher or a child in a child
care facility, or a parent of such a child, or a Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officer – everyone is part of our
herd, and we need to get to herd immunity. And fast!
Let’s start at the beginning. The concept of vaccinations and their development is not a new
phenomenon. Vaccinations have been successful for decades and for a number of diseases (chickenpox,
mumps, measles, polio, etc.) and all of us as children were vaccinated. It works! Some may argue that
the COVID-19 vaccine was rushed and not tested well. Of course, the creation and testing of the COVID19
vaccine was faster than usual but there are good explanations (such as modern scientific tools faster
than older ones, strong worldwide political and social desire and ability to cut out bureaucracy, large
numbers of volunteers to test it right away, etc.). Thus, the rapidity with which the vaccine was created
does not necessarily mean that corners were cut. Regardless, even if that were a concern, in the end the
results are the results, the data is the data, the proof is in the pudding as they say, and the pudding here
is the data from the clinical trials. These data clearly show that the COVID-19 vaccine works and is
protective for the overwhelming majority (95%) of people. Below, please see a brief synopsis of a recent
New England Journal of Medicine article [NEJM 2020;383:2603-2615]:
A total of 43,548 participants underwent randomization, of whom 43,448 received injections: 21,720 with
BNT162b2 and 21,728 with placebo. There were 8 cases of Covid-19 with onset at least 7 days after the second
dose among participants assigned to receive BNT162b2 and 162 cases among those assigned to placebo;
BNT162b2 was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 (95% credible interval, 90.3 to 97.6). Similar vaccine efficacy
(generally 90 to 100%) was observed across subgroups defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, baseline body-mass
index, and the presence of coexisting conditions. Among 10 cases of severe Covid-19 with onset after the first dose,
9 occurred in placebo recipients and 1 in a BNT162b2 recipient. The safety profile of BNT162b2 was characterized by short-term, mild-to-moderate pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. The incidence of serious adverse events was low and was similar in the vaccine and placebo groups.
A two-dose regimen of BNT162b2 conferred 95% protection against Covid-19 in persons 16 years of age or older.
Safety over a median of 2 months was similar to that of other viral vaccines.
Are there any side effects after receiving the vaccine? Of course, there are! Any medication you take –
whether it be Motrin, Tylenol, blood pressure medications, heart medications, or any other – will have side effects.
We don’t give a moment’s thought before taking Tylenol for example. Yet here is the list of
possible side effects of Tylenol: nausea, vomiting, constipation, liver failure, abdominal pain, diarrhea,
Anemia, and many more! So, once again, it is important to understand that all therapeutic interventions
(medications, vaccines, antibodies, etc.) have side effects.
What we need to determine is whether or not their benefit outweighs the possible, rare, side effects.
The COVID-19 vaccines have the following most common, short-term side effects – mild to moderate pain at injection site, fatigue (sometimes severe), and headache. It seems self-evident that tolerating the above–mentioned, minor, side effects would certainly be worth avoiding a COVID-19 infection.
But what about the serious side effects of being vaccinated? Let’s take two of the most serious side
effects – anaphylaxis and death. The rate of anaphylaxis was 2.5 per million people vaccinated. The
number of deaths after vaccination from December 14, 2020 to February, 2021 was 1,099 out of 63
million people vaccinated. Now, when these records were reviewed, none of the deaths were
attributed to the vaccine – which results in a rate of 0 deaths per million people vaccinated. However,
let’s take the most skeptical and pessimistic view, and say that ALL deaths were attributed to the
vaccine. That gives us a rate of 17 deaths per million people vaccinated
(https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html). Now, let’s look at
the death rate from automobile accidents in the US. In 2018, there were approximately, 39,404 deaths
attributed to automobiles, giving us a rate of 120 deaths per million people. Do we hesitate to get into
our car and drive? Not really. So, let’s review:
1. Chance of anaphylactic reaction to COVID-19 vaccine: 2.5 per million
2. Chance of death from the vaccine: approximately close to 0 per million
3. Chance of death from the vaccine: worst-case scenario if you don’t believe the CDC – 17 per million
4. Chance of death from getting into your car – 120 per million Folks! The data speaks for itself.
Please get vaccinated!
About the Author: Arby Khan is a physician and Immunologist who has studied, researched, worked on,
and published scientific papers on, the Immune system. He did his graduate work in Immunology from
Yale University School of Medicine and his research work both at Yale University and at The
Transplantation Biology Research Center, Harvard Medical School