AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
As the United States approaches the unthinkable mark of 300,000 deaths, as well as the millions of Americans who have been stricken with the virus since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
On Monday, Dec. 14, Pfizer began its initial shipment of a vaccine that has been shown to be 90 percent effective in treating the virus to healthcare systems across the country. And by the end of this year, it is expected that 35 to 40 million doses will be shipped as other vaccines become available from other suppliers like Moderna.
The remarkable speed with which this vaccine has been developed and cleared for use by the Federal Drug Administration is truly amazing and is a testament to what is capable when the world faces such a deadly virus.
So as the vaccines now roll into every state, the big question is how each state will prioritize who receives it. Obviously, the first ones to be vaccinated should be the front line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and the elderly. It goes without question that healthcare workers who are dealing with COVID patients need to be protected. Likewise, the elderly, who are the most vulnerable of the virus, need to be high on the list.
But considering the short supply of vaccine currently available, it will be a challenge to determine who gets the opportunity to be vaccinated as more doses of the vaccination become available. Or when the general public will have the opportunity to receive the two shots that are going to be required for the vaccine to be effective.
By the government’s best estimates, there may not be enough vaccine to begin vaccinating the general public until late this spring or into the summer.
But another big question is how willing will people, even those in the healthcare industry, be to get the vaccine if it is offered to them. Simply having the vaccine available is not going to make the coronavirus go away. The virus is not going to be manageable until the vast majority of Americans and the rest of the world’s population is vaccinated. It will be just like the small pox pandemic in 1918. When we reach herd immunity, one can only hope that life as we once knew it will resume.
While I may have my concerns about the vaccine and whether or not there are going to be any long-term medical issues, I’m going to be standing at the front of the line to get my shot whenever I can.
So why would I be so willing to get vaccinated?
I know what it is like to worry each and every day that I may have been exposed to the virus. I’m tired of not being able to see friends and family. I’m tired of not being able to jump on an airplane and go see my one-year-old grandson, who still hasn’t been able to be baptized because of COVID-19. I’m tired of watching people I know become sick and worse, die, from the virus. And I’m sick of watching our community’s, state’s and nation’s economy imploding because of the virus.
The arrival of the vaccine is the best news that we have had since April when the coronavirus upset our world.
And today, the vaccine is the best Christmas present we will be receiving this year.