It’s been just about six months since the coronavirus pandemic started. With it came the race to find a vaccine. Latest reports currently have over 100 vaccine candidates in the development phase right now, with hopes that at least one will be a safe and effective treatment option to distribute to the public.
For many people, getting the coronavirus vaccine when it’s ready may seem like a no-brainer. But, it’s not so clear for others. A recent survey conducted by Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, NY found that only 45% of Long Island residents would get a coronavirus vaccine, with 30% being unsure and 25% stating they wouldn’t get vaccinated at all. Here’s what we know (and what you need to know) about the coronavirus vaccine so far, and why it’s important to get vaccinated when the time comes.
Why People May Be Hesitant to Get Vaccinated
With every vaccination that comes to market there’s a period of testing and human trial. To date, the fastest vaccine to hit the market was for the mumps, which took about four years. A coronavirus vaccine is expected much sooner, but its speed may make the public more nervous when it comes to its efficacy as well as any adverse side effects. A 2019 poll conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association found that two out of every five Americans say something has caused them to doubt vaccine safety overall, even before conversations of the coronavirus vaccine began.
But getting vaccinated is extremely important, and when one does materialize more people may be willing to get it than they initially thought, says Aaron Glatt, chairman of infectious diseases and hospital epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Hewlett, New York.
“Right now there is a lull in coronavirus cases and the numbers are relatively low,” says Dr. Glatt. “So I think when people are asked about [getting a coronavirus vaccine] it’s not a practical question for them. They don’t know if the vaccine is safe and available and so they tend to be more hesitant in theory.”
Who Will Get Vaccinated First?
Once a vaccine gets approved, drug manufacturers then need to make enough for global distribution, meaning there likely won’t be enough of a vaccine to go around for everyone at the same time.
“It’s likely that the first group of people to get the coronavirus vaccine would be healthcare workers who do not have coronavirus antibodies,” says Dr. Glatt. “After that the next step may be high-risk individuals who do not have antibodies.”
Testing positive for coronavirus antibodies means that you’ve already been infected with the virus, and because of this your body has built up some immunity to it (though for how long this immunity lasts is still unclear).
What Could Happen If the Majority Doesn’t Get Vaccinated
Similar to other viral outbreaks, the more people who don’t get vaccinated the longer and faster the virus can spread, racking up more death and disease that will continue to overwhelm the country’s healthcare systems. There are currently over 6 million total coronavirus cases in the U.S. and over 183,000 deaths reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making the risk of not getting vaccinated a great concern for public health.
What to Do While We Wait for a Vaccine
If you’re feeling anxious while waiting for a coronavirus vaccine to come to fruition, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to help you stay as healthy as possible.
“Continue wearing your mask when you’re out in public, wash your hands frequently, and practice social distancing,” says Dr. Glatt. “These measures should never change.”
It’s also important to remember that just because there’s been a decrease in spread thanks to lockdown protocols across the country, the virus is far from gone.
“The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over,” says Dr. Glatt. “We have the ability to keep it from spiking, but with more states starting to reopen we are seeing a lot of different results in terms of new cases. Some states are actually getting worse.”
Protect Your Immunity With Because Health
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