Quiet down anti-vaxxers, the COVID-19 vaccine is perfectly safe


Graphic by Evelyn Shue

Over 107,000 Montgomery County residents have received their first vaccine dose and approximately 34,000 residents have been fully vaccinated.

Shoshana Peck, Opinions Writer

As the COVID-19 virus continues to encroach on and disturb people’s lives, many look fervently to the recent vaccines as the only means to save them and return the world to a state of normalcy. Despite the abundance of misinformation on vaccinations, research has repeatedly proven that vaccines are safe, and the COVID-19 vaccines are no different. With multiple pharmaceutical companies already having conducted trials and distributing their vaccines, arguments against inoculation hold no weight.

At the moment, two vaccines have been authorized in the United States,​ the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, with AstraZeneca’s being distributed in other parts of the world. A common misconception about these vaccines, reinforced by the poorly named Operation Warp Speed (OWS), is that they have not been thoroughly tested. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, OWS helped speed up the development and distribution of vaccines by providing government support in their production. Focusing on safety and effectiveness throughout the process, OWS cut no corners.

Science teacher Eleanor Parks said, “The most that I do know about it is that all the protocols were followed, they were just expedited. So I am confident in the science behind the vaccines, that they did go through all the necessary trials and protocols.” As more people have the opportunity to get the vaccine, misinformation about it must not spread, so people are not hesitant to receive it.

Over the past year, many infectious disease experts have discussed the need for herd immunity against COVID-19, which is when enough of a population is immune to an infectious disease that it can no longer spread. According to The Atlantic, to achieve herd immunity roughly two-thirds of the population would need to be vaccinated. A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in November 2020 reported 60 percent of Americans would definitely or probably get a vaccine for COVID-19 if one was available today, up from the 51 percent in September 2020. Americans are becoming more willing to get the vaccine as more information is available, and eventually, there will be a sufficient amount to achieve herd immunity in the country.

While any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration is safe, there are still side-effects to consider. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some common side effects are swelling, fever, chills, headache and tiredness. However, these are common in other established vaccines, such as the flu vaccine. They are signs the body is building protection and they go away within a few days. 

Park said, “one of my biggest concerns is that people will say like ‘oh the vaccine is out I can stop socially distancing, I can stop wearing a mask.’ This isn’t going to be like an on-off switch […] it will take time for us to see the overall benefits of mass vaccinations.” While the availability of vaccines will be a relief, people must still take precautions of wearing masks and social distancing. Vaccines are a valuable tool in the fight against COVID-19, but they will only be effective if we can keep up our current social distancing measures.

The age-old argument against vaccinations, which is being applied to the COVID-19 one, is that the injections can cause autism in young children. Though, according to the CDC, there is no link between vaccines and autism. A 2011 analysis by the Institute of Medicine used peer-reviewed literature to review influenza, hepatitis A and B, HPV and meningococcal vaccines as well as those containing diphtheria-toxoid, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis found that “these vaccines are safe and that serious adverse events are quite rare.” Research has repeatedly proven that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks, many of which are exaggerated or entirely made up by the anti-vaxxer movement.  

At the end of the day, the COVID-19 vaccines are everything people have been hoping for–the possibility of normalcy. However, the efficiency of a vaccine depends on individuals stepping up and volunteering for the safety of everyone. History has proven that the only way to fully move past viral crises is to vaccinate the population. If older generations inoculated themselves from polio and measles, we must do the same and move forward.