On December 11th, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use for a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. While the vaccine is currently only available for front-line workers, the elderly, and those with auto-immune disorders, the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has spiked a conversation regarding its safety.
Vaccines are definitely a touchy subject. Just look at The Cutter Incident in 1955 where a polio vaccine ended up containing the live virus and caused an outbreak. What about the link between the swine flu vaccine and cases of Guillain-Barre? We often make fun of the anti-vaxxer sentiment, but in reality, much of it is warranted. Vaccines are much more complicated than we realize. That's why many Americans are skeptical of the lightning fast production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to a recent survey by Pew Research, only 29% of American adults say they "definitely" plan to get a vaccine. But where does that leave the remaining 71% of the population? Similarly, in an AP-NORC poll in mid-May, fewer than 50 percent of Americans surveyed said they would commit to getting a coronavirus vaccine whenever it becomes available.
Operation Warp Speed, while necessary, does not come without its concerns. While it is an amazing feat that pharmaceutical companies were able to facilitate the production of multiple vaccines within ten months (as opposed to five years), there are many consequences that many reveal themselves without long-term testing. Let's not forget that each of these pharmaceutical companies are competing with each other. They want to be the first to market with a vaccine, so what's stopping them from cutting corners in the process? Even in the short-term, four Pfizer vaccine patients developed Bell's palsy as a side effect, resulting in paralysis in half of their face.
Another strong argument against taking the COVID-19 vaccine is the possibility of losing our freedom—"medical tyranny," some call it. As we begin to reopen, what's to stop certain governors, the travel industry, or even private businesses from mandating that everyone show proof of vaccination? With Biden set to be inaugurated in January, who's to say that he won't instate a federal vaccine mandate?
Thomas Jefferson once said, "If the people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medication they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Freedom in this country is quickly dissipating and the quicker we give in, the quicker we let our government know that we are no longer willing to fight.
That being said, COVID-19 presents overwhelming challenges and must be dealt with accordingly. But we urge those considering the vaccine to think about the many serious risks that the vaccine may possess. Everyone wants to "get back to normal," but is this really the best way?