New Year's resolutions are looking a lot different this year than in years past. Traditionally, we resolve to improve our well being by eating healthier, exercising more, saving money, striving to be more mindful, learning a new hobby, etc. This year the one New Year's resolution we should all vow to commit to is remaining vigilant about containing the spread of COVID 19. Continuing to wear masks, social distancing, hand washing are all still very much crucial in prevention of disease spread. As a physician who has worked on the frontlines of this public health care crisis, I strongly recommend you to get vaccinated when you have the opportunity to do so. It is the best way we can turn the tide on this pandemic. This is a very deadly disease. And plain and simple, vaccinations prevent infections and save lives.
January 2021 marks the one year anniversary since the first case of COVID 19 was reported in the United States. Since that time, over 400,000 lives have been lost to this disease in the United States. We are witness to the horrific impact this has had in our own community as well as globally.
With the rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines we are celebrating a tremendous milestone in the fight against this disease. Nevertheless, the unprecedented pace at which the vaccines have rolled out have caused legitimate concern among many regarding safety. However, it is important to recognize that clinical trials of all vaccines, including COVID 19 vaccines, must show they are safe and effective before being approved and authorized for use. Like pharmaceuticals, all vaccines undergo stringent evaluation through three phases of clinical trials. Another very important consideration to keep in mind is that despite its seemingly "warp speed" development, the groundwork for these vaccines were already laid from vaccine research during the prior SARS-Cov-1 and MERS (covid "cousins") outbreaks. The major antigenic target for those vaccines was a large surface spike protein. The analagous protein is also present in SARS-Cov-2. Preclinical trials and even phase I human trials had been conducted. The research was halted only because those viruses were eliminated and no longer posed a threat.
This kind of transparency is crucial in debunking misinformation and building public trust regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been tested on up to 400,000 volunteers of different races, ethnicities, and health conditions including kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Both vaccines are approximately 95% effective at preventing COVID-19. The vaccine does not impact your DNA or your genetic code. The risk of an adverse effect from either of these vaccines is negligible when compared to its overall benefit. Data from the Pfizer vaccine demonstrates an overall adverse event rate only slightly more than 0.02% with the estimated anaphylaxis rate only 11 cases per million doses administered. The CDC and FDA continually monitor for adverse effects and regularly assess the risks and benefits of vaccination. This is not to say the vaccine is free of any side effects. Of the tens of thousands of people already vaccinated, many report short term side symptoms such as arm pain, fever, body aches. When compared to the virus itself which has infected more than 70 million people around the world and killed approximately 1.6 million, this is almost nothing when compared to the devastation caused to families, health care systems and economies globally.
On a final note, we cannot forget the fragility of humanity during these difficult times. I strongly encourage you to be kind to yourselves and to those around you as many around us are struggling with the loss of family, friends, personal health, and financial insecurity. We must all find a way to move forward, and the only way in doing so is by containing this virus.
Like all of you, I look forward to our community, nation, and world without COVID-19.
Please reach out to me if you have chronic kidney disease and have questions or concerns regarding vaccination. As your doctor and member of your community, I appreciate everything you are doing to keep yourself and others safe.