Should my family and I receive the COVID-19 vaccine? This has remained the hottest debate since the development of the COVID-19 vaccines. You would think that the answer to this question would be obvious, considering the steps taken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure public safety.
For instance, prior to authorizing the three vaccines in use in the United States—Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen—for emergency use, both the FDA’s Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and the CDC’s Advisory Committee (ACIP) thoroughly reviewed the data from clinical trials and continue to monitor all the COVID-19 vaccines for safety.
In the process of vaccine production, clinical trials are essential. It is at this point that the efficacy and safety of the vaccine are tested. In the United States, vaccine trials for efficacy and safety are conducted at three separate and spaced intervals, with more volunteers included in each stage of the trial. Because of the need to produce the COVID-19 vaccine very quickly, the clinical trials were conducted synchronously.
While these scientists were hard at work, politicians and conspiracy theorists made the conversation problematic even before the vaccines were approved for use. The basis for the political argument is that the government infringed upon people’s rights when it stepped in to prevent any flagrant breaches of rules put in place for public safety; the mask mandate, closure of schools and businesses, cancellation of sports events, and the closure of borders and travel restrictions were all actions taken by the government, which offended some people.
There are also conspiracy theorists and rumormongers. To monitor and document the major source of these theories and rumors, a team was formed in June 2020. The team found that 91% of COVID-19 criticisms from 52 countries were rumors and 9% were conspiracy theories. They also found out that conspiracy theories and rumors are widespread and strong in countries that lack health awareness, of which Nigeria is one. Many health experts were not surprised. This is because Nigerians are known for accepting conspiracy theories and rumors about vaccines. For instance, a boycott of the polio vaccine due to rumors of it causing infertility is the main reason that Nigeria was one of the last places in the world to eradicate polio.
The study found that, among Nigerians, the most common vaccine conspiracy theory relates to religious beliefs. More than any other people in the world, Nigerians believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is a ploy by the anti-Christ to take over the world. The second most common sub-topic tracked in the study relates to deliberate scientific intent for the COVID-19 vaccine to alter deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), consequently turning people into genetically modified beings. Some people even claim that the COVID-19 vaccine was manufactured to reduce the world’s population.
While the debate rages, you might expect that Nigerians would lead the world in taking the responsible route out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because, more than any other people in the world, Nigerians love being in the company of friends and family. However, the company of loved ones must be enjoyed responsibly. This week, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 700,000, which is equal to all cancer deaths in the same period. As the world emerges from the gloom of COVID-19, vaccination remains the only way to get back to any semblance of normalcy.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. There are new, more communicable variants of the disease. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stated that the new strain of coronavirus known as the Delta variant might become the dominant source of new infections in the United States and around the world. Remarkably, the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness from this new variant.
In light of these new complications, it is important that we do the right thing by protecting our friends and families. We must do the right thing by protecting ourselves and each other against COVID-19. If you are in doubt about the vaccine, the single most important thing to do is to consult your doctor.
Candid Pen ®