Washington Evening Journal
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Vaccine benefits far outweigh potential side effects
By Nyle Kauffman - Retired doctor
Jun. 30, 2021 5:00 am
COVID-19 has caused the worst epidemic of a single disease in my lifetime. We now have 3.8 million deaths worldwide and 602,000 plus deaths in our country. The disease still is with us with 49,921 new cases reported on May 3, 2021.
So what can we do to cope with it. We don't have a good treatment to kill the virus. Wearing masks and social distancing helps but doesn't prevent it completely and is quite burdensome to some people.
Vaccines have been developed, and we now have three available to us. There are lots of questions and concerns regarding these vaccines and what they will do to us.
The concerns are listed as follows.
1. This is a new vaccine that was rushed into production and therefore is not likely safe. It's true this is a new vaccine, and it's true that this is the first time we've seen messenger RNA vaccines for widespread use.
The technology behind messenger RNA has been studied extensively over the last 10 years, and this is not the first vaccine that has been created using this technology. It is true that the seriousness of the COVID epidemic pushed people to work together and speed things along like never before.
However, the usual methods of extensive testing and trials in live people were carried out like usual. The study group in the Pfizer vaccine included 43,000 people. The usual steps for vaccine approval through the FDA were carried out.
We now have 246 million people who have received a dose of vaccine so that's an extensive test.
2. Concern about potential side effects. There are side effects recognized following vaccination which include soreness at the injection site, tiredness, fatigue, aching and fever. These symptoms happen in approximately 25% of people. Occasionally they are severe enough to prevent attending to work but that is unusual.
Following the J & vaccine unusual blood clotting has been recognized and is now a warning on that vaccine. The number of people who miss work because of vaccine side effects is small. There are cases of myocarditis showing up in males under age 20. It is not long lasting.
3. Concern regarding long-term side effects. It is true we know very little about the long-term side effects of the COVID vaccine because this is a new product. We also know very little about the long-term effects of COVID infection, but we do know that a significant number of people are having persistent disability because of the COVID infection.
A recent article suggests this is present not only in older people but young people as well and is something we will learn more about as time goes by. No other vaccine has demonstrated side effects that were not apparent in the first six months or year of usage of that vaccine so it's not likely that new things will turn up in the future.
4. The messenger RNA vaccine will affect my heredity. The messenger RNA molecule that is given is absorbed into your muscle cells and dendritic cells, and there it stimulates the ribosomes in the cell to make the protein that is COVID-like and triggers an immune response.
If you were infected by a COVID virus, it stimulates your cellular machinery in a similar way to make proteins and all the materials necessary to make a complete virus so the infection can perpetuate itself.
What the vaccine stimulates is small in comparison. The messenger RNA that was injected into you is destroyed within one to two days. It does not get into the cell nucleus and does not affect your DNA, and therefore has no long-term effect.
A piece of knowledge along this line of thinking is that viruses are capable of inserting material into our DNA, and it's suggested that up to 8% of our DNA is from viral origin. This may be from infections that we have encountered or infections that our forefathers encountered, and we inherited the virus particles from them as part of our DNA.
This is an ongoing area of study and is quite fascinating. This DNA material from a virus may cause disease or alter our cellular processes or may be completely harmless. Viral infections that seem benign may have unexpected long-term consequences.
5. Microchips or tracking material will be injected into me when I receive the vaccine. This is completely false. Microchips can be made and injected into people and can be used for tracking, but they are not tiny and can easily be detected and are not currently part of any vaccine.
In summary, I would like to say that COVID-19 epidemic has had profound effects on us in many ways. I think we all know someone who has died from this disease.
A significant number of us have been infected and fortunately recovered. For those who have not been infected receiving a vaccine decreases the likelihood of getting the disease by up to 95% and decreases the severity of the disease we will get.
Health care workers who have been vaccinated are 90% less likely to miss work because of the COVID virus.
A lot more could be said, but I feel that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the potential side effects, and I have taken the vaccine.
By getting vaccinated I am less likely to pass on the virus to my neighbors and friends. One of our Christian principles for living comes from the words of Jesus "love your neighbor as yourself." Loving our neighbor is doing what we can to keep him healthy. I would like to do what I can to make that come true.
Nyle Kauffman is a retired internal medicine physician of Iowa City and a member of Eastern Iowa rural Health and Safety Clinic.
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