Over the past century, we have made tremendous strides that have allowed us to nearly double human life expectancy. Of course, medical knowledge and rapid changes in new technology did certainly help. But do you know what else helped lead to this achievement? Vaccinations. Yes, when it comes to improving quality of life, vaccinations are perhaps the single, most significant medical discovery. Why don’t we see as many people with polio or small pox as our grandparents did? Because we have been able to eradicate small pox and almost eliminate polio through vaccinations.
How do vaccines work? After recognizing a foreign body, either a bacteria or virus, our body fights infection by activating various germ-fighting tools such as antibodies. Vaccines imitate an infection and allow our bodies to preemptively develop such tools. There are different types of vaccines, such as live or inactivated. Vaccines can cause some mild side effects like fever, nausea, or body aches, but they do not cause the actual illness itself. In addition, vaccines also provide another benefit, herd immunity. By offering preemptive protection with vaccines, we can limit the transmission of disease between individuals. In other words, the higher the vaccination rates in a population, the higher the rate of herd immunity.
So what’s the fuss with all of those scary things about vaccinations? Well, it all started with a British study that supposedly showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in kids. The study itself was flawed, the data was falsified, the lead author was discredited and had his medical license revoked, and the other authors removed themselves from the study. Since then, there have been numerous studies that have shown vaccines do not have such side effects at all. Yet, there still remains this unnecessary stigma that has led to a rise of an anti-vaccination movement.
As we are nearing an end to 2020, we can agree that all of our lives this year have been dominated by COVID-19. Nearly 300,000 deaths and 15 million cases later, vaccines now offer a chance to bring this nightmare to an end. The leading vaccines are mRNA based, which simply means your body can develop antibodies faster than ever before! One of the best things is that mRNA vaccines can’t give you the disease because they don’t contain the disease. Finally, while starting to protect you from COVID-19 the mRNA does not come in contact with your DNA. After doing its job, the mRNA is quickly broken down. That’s why you need two doses! Each of the vaccines have been thoroughly studied and found to be highly effective.
The bottom line is that vaccinations work. They have played a big role in building our world today. They have saved so many lives. We understand your concerns about vaccinations, and one of our responsibilities as your healthcare providers is to provide the facts. In the next few months, the COVID vaccine will be made available to the general public. You have the power to make a difference. Ignore all of the misinformation out there, take the COVID vaccine, and save the lives of your family and friends. If you have any more questions about vaccinations, please feel free to reach out to your WRHS providers.
Dr. Soubhi Alhayek is a first-year resident physician at White River Medical Center. He went to medical school at the American University of Caribbean School of Medicine. He is an aspiring Infectious Disease doctor. His hobbies include cooking, playing board games and hanging out with friends.
Dr. Krishna Vedala is a third-year resident physician at White River Medical Center. He is from Oklahoma and received his MD and Masters in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma. His hobbies include writing, watching football and basketball, and traveling.