Coronavirus

Should We Feel Nervous About Getting The Covid Vaccines?

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The Covid vaccine rollout is going to be the biggest vaccination program in history.

The fast development of successful vaccines has been incredible, but the idea of actually getting the jab might be making some people a bit nervous.

I want to figure out what we really know about the safety of these vaccines and how we should feel about getting them.

What’s Happening With The Covid Vaccine?

The UK became the first country in the world to approve any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Britain’s medicines regulator gave the green light for the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine and their vaccination program is just about to kick off with an initial 800,000 doses going to the people who are most vulnerable to the disease.

It’s a major turning point in the pandemic and a pretty remarkable moment in modern medicine.

But the speed of vaccine development has put a lot of people on edge because it seems like corners could have been cut on safety, and that worry is growing the closer we get to the start of these vaccine programs.

One survey found that 60% of Americans are now saying they don’t even want to take a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available.

Professor Julie Leask: “It’s common when you have new vaccine programs, for people to feel uncertain and sometimes it takes a little while for people to get ready and warm to the idea.”

That’s Professor Julie Leask, who understands the anxiety – especially when we’re talking about the Covid vaccines – because some are using an approach to immunisation that we’ve never seen licensed before.

JL: “We’ve got to remember that when the polio vaccine came along in the 50s that was a new technology as well and gee it did a lot of good … so new technologies by their nature aren’t bad, they can be very good.”

OK, but what do we know about the actual safety of these vaccines?

How Safe Are They?

Tens of thousands of people have received one at some point in the trial processes, and none of the companies have reported any serious side effects beyond the same kind of headaches and aches that some people experience with the flu vaccine.

JL: “They’ve applied the same safety testing processes that they do to any vaccine. In fact an advantage with this one is that they’ve had so many people in the clinical trials across many different countries … so we’ve actually got quite a lot of data already on safety.”

Researchers are pointing out that the super speedy vaccine development is a pretty incredible example of what can happen when governments, regulators and researchers commit to working together with massive budgets.

JL: “But having said all that, we need to still be open to hearing about any safety issues that come up that are genuine safety issues … Australia now has really careful monitoring systems so that if people have a reaction and what we call an adverse event following immunisation, they can contact the appropriate people and let them know and we’ll be monitoring this really carefully.”

Because these vaccines are going to be rolled out to so many people, there could be side effects that just didn’t show up in the trials.

A warning’s already been issued in the UK for people with severe allergies to avoid the Pfizer jab after two serious reactions to it.

But overall, the risks are far, far outweighed by the reward of slowing a disease that’s killed over 1 and a half million people. 

JL: “The benefits that we’ll see here – if those vaccines turn out to be as effective as they’re looking – are that we’ll be able to control this terrible disease, which has ground economies to a halt and so badly affected our lives. So we’ve just got to keep that in perspective.”

The Takeaway

The vaccine trials have been really promising and we should all feel relatively comfortable about the safety of these shots.

It’s understandable to feel uneasy about them but at the end of the day, the benefits of these vaccination programs are going to be huge, particularly in countries that have been overwhelmed by the disease and are seeing hundreds, if not thousands of lives lost every day.