Combating Vaccine Hesitancy


Yena Son ('22)

The Moorestown Mall is the home of the The Burlington County Vaccine Mega-Site.

To say the very least, lives across the globe have been flipped upside down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Making its big debut in the United States back in January 2020, the lingering beast of Covid-19 has accompanied and disrupted everyday lives. From students learning out of their bedrooms, to commuters pausing on the road, to a multitude of individuals becoming unemployed, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone and everything. Now, over a year later, the use of terms such as social distancing has become a daily ritual and mask-wearing is the not-so-new norm. The impact of the pandemic and global health crisis drove top health professionals around the world to find life-saving measures through preventions while vaccines were developed. Typically, the complex process of creating a vaccine can take about 10-15 years. In under one year, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna obtained emergency approval. Johnson & Johnson also got emergency authorization for its vaccination; however, the distribution was paused on April 23rd, 2021.

Worldwide, scientists have worked together to accumulate their research in support of getting the world back to where it used to be. Thus, these two vaccines, which are currently distributed within the United States, are safe and effective at preventing Covid-19. The Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines are mRNA vaccines that teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response to Covid-19. The vaccines have gone through various testings and approvals to certify their safety for use in the general public. Why should you take the vaccine? Does it pose any harm because of the rapid vaccine production timeline, which could have omitted possible screenings? What are the long-term risks of the vaccine? For starters, the two vaccines that effectively lower the chance of Covid-19 have been granted FDA emergency usage approval. Prior to the release of the vaccine, there were only medications to treat the symptoms of the virus, as opposed to the preventative options now available. In regards to the long-term risks of the vaccine, it is very infrequent that adverse side effects will occur, as the vaccinations were tested in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. While the vaccines have not been around for very long, scientists have conducted research on similar coronaviruses such as SARS. The demand for a vaccine, previous research and participants’ contributions in clinical trials allowed the process to occur in record time. With this information in mind, it is extremely valuable to get vaccinated when you have the opportunity because it is the only practical solution to prevent the virus long-term. In order to get rid of the virus, the nation must reach herd immunity. According to Harvard Medical School, herd immunity is best described as “when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.” Herd immunity enables protection for the community, even if not all people are vaccinated. It has been scientifically proven that the vaccine is a valuable resource.

Individuals have access to it, whether from a local physician’s office, neighborhood CVS, or workplace. Pharmacies along with mass vaccination sites across the country have offered the vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommended the Pfizer vaccine demonstrates 95% effectiveness, and the Moderna vaccine has 94.1% effectiveness. Although full eligibility has expanded to most Americans, vaccine hesitancy has become a source for debate. Many people believe that the vaccine was “rushed” due to the desperate need and are unsure about its long-term effects. Undoubtedly, the vaccine hit a record for fast production. However, the coding for the vaccine was built off of previous research and supporting data.

In order to get more people vaccinated, the research and data supporting the vaccine must be brought to the attention of hesitant individuals. States are using special programs to incentivize individuals to get the vaccine. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey established a program with breweries in the state’s communities to reward people who show proof of vaccination with a complimentary beverage. Besides the benefits of receiving these incentives, receiving the vaccine provides the ultimate reward of staying healthy and safe. It is important to note that the success of vaccine efforts is challenged by vaccine hesitancy. With newly established programs rewarding people to get vaccinated and loosening restrictions on those vaccinated, the race to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine continues.