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A personal decision

Right now, as the first two approved vaccines are getting shipped and shot into arms across the country, there’s no lack of confusion about what the smart course of action is, on a personal level or a policy level.

As for me, when it’s time for those in my category to get one, I’ll do so if it’s recommended. I’ve had a history long ago of anaphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction). I’m allergic to certain nuts. Six people in the United States with a history of such problems have suffered them after receiving a vaccine against COVID-19, and it can be deadly if not treated. But that’s why you don’t just get up and leave after getting your shot but stay for at least 15 minutes. Anaphylactic shock usually happens in minutes or seconds.

Is there risk? Yes, of course. Nothing is without risk. But there’s much more risk that I, my wife, my loved ones and many of you will get sick with this awful virus if enough of us don’t build our collective immunity by taking an effective vaccine. It’s my duty to get vaccinated, and, I will argue, yours.

I’ve seen various guesses about what percentage of us need to gain immunity to the virus before it is no longer a threat. It’s still too new to really know exactly, but the estimates I’ve read are high and would take years and millions of deaths to reach without vaccines.

That means we all have to do our part, even if we have some misgivings. Those can be allayed, but don’t think those doubts are all irrational. Both the vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States are using a new route to get us to immunity — getting our own cells to make little bits of protein, like that found on the enemy virus, that will incite our immune systems to attack the virus when it shows up.

It’s newly in use, but it’s not scary and the possibility has been understood since about 1960. Scientists who saw the potential in the approach couldn’t convince funding agencies to pay for the making of a new type of vaccine when the old way seemed to work well enough. But now we ran into a dire need for a new way.

Testing wasn’t cut short; the same requirements were met, but it was started earlier than the FDA’s slow process normally allows, happening at the same time as other parts of a vaccine rollout process were being prepared.

Then politics started to muck with our confidence in the process, and people were afraid it might taint test results. But multiple panels of experts in immunology have reviewed the information found in the studies. And other experts have checked their work. They see good, professional work and a safe, extremely effective vaccine.

We should all get vaccinated as soon as possible if we’re not advised against it for some individual health reason.

Scott Hunter

Editor and publisher


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