Vaccination Risks

Saturday, January 8, 2022 8:53:54 PM

Vaccination Risks

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COVID-19 Vaccine: mRNA and Why It Matters

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Telescoping testing timelines and approvals may expose all of us to unnecessary dangers related to the vaccine. While preclinical trials to evaluate the potential safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates are likely to include tens of thousands of patients, it is still unclear whether that number will be large enough and a trial will last long enough to evaluate safety for a drug that would be administered to so many.

The US alone plans to vaccinate hundreds of millions of people with the first successful candidate. One serious adverse event per thousand of a vaccine given to million people means harm to , otherwise healthy people. Aside from questions of safety that attend any vaccine, there are good reasons to be especially cautious for COVID Some vaccines worsen the consequences of infection rather than protect, a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement ADE. ADE has been observed in previous attempts to develop coronavirus vaccines. Such concerns are real. As recently as , Dengavxia, intended to protect children from the dengue virus, increased hospitalizations for children who received the vaccine. Questions also arise around the efficacy of a potential vaccine.

The little we know of the current generation of COVID vaccines raises serious questions regarding their ability to protect people from infection. We know all the candidates tested to date in non-human primates failed to protect any of the monkeys from infection of the nasal passages, the primary route of human infection. Failure to protect entirely from infection fits with all we know about attempts to protect monkeys from two other deadly coronaviruses, those that cause SARS and MERS. On a brighter note, at least some of the candidate vaccines did raise significant immune responses. How that translates to protection of humans is uncertain though as monkeys do not become noticeably ill or exhibit many of the life-threatening consequences of COVID, even when exposed to high doses of the virus via the nose, lung, and rectum simultaneously.

As many of the most serious COVID symptoms do not appear until late in the disease course, sometimes four to five weeks following exposure, there is a possibility that we will not have sufficient time to judge efficacy of a new vaccine, even by the lower standard of symptom amelioration. The older we get the poorer our ability to respond to vaccines. Resistance to vaccination begins early at age 30 and becomes progressively more profound with time. That is especially troubling as those over 60 are the population most at risk. Vaccination of the elderly may sometimes succeed by administering repeated doses and by increasing the potency of the vaccine with powerful adjuvants. But these adjuvants can be especially risky for the very old. It seems a folly then to rush our way towards a vaccine in if it is likely to have only limited benefit to the population most in need and may put otherwise healthy people at risk.

Public support for vaccines in general is already an issue. Trust in other lifesaving vaccines will be eroded even further if a COVID vaccine goes wrong and many more people—children especially—will be at risk if vaccination rates fall. Yes, we are all increasingly longing for an end to the outbreak. But a safe vaccine, effective for all those at risk, is worth the wait, especially when we have other solutions in hand.

We already know from the experience of countries in Asia that the epidemic can be stopped in its tracks with basic public health measures: widespread testing, contact tracing, and mandatory controlled quarantine—not necessarily in a dismal public health facility as many imagine, but in our own homes with virtual supervision or in a hotel environment. These efforts alone could bring new infections down to almost zero within just weeks. In addition, I believe it will be possible before the end of this year to protect those most at risk from exposure with combinations of monoclonal antibodies or with truly effective antiviral drugs.

These drugs could treat those who were ill and prevent further infection. Our immune system then fights this infection, and has a supply of cells or antibodies that remember the infection and can fight that disease in the future. The vaccines we get can help our bodies develop immunity, as tiny doses of the disease are introduced to our body, without causing illness. It helps the immune system develop the same response as a real infection, so you can develop antibodies and fight it in the future. Some people argue that natural immunity is best for your body. While this is true, many immune systems can't handle the virus that comes, and things like measles, polio, and smallpox can kill children or leave devastating results like paralysis or neurological damage.

Immunizations are a much safer way to help immune systems create the antibodies needed to fight these diseases. Registered nurses or other educated healthcare professionals ones who administer vaccines. These nurses are trained in school about the proper ways to administer vaccines, what reactions to watch out for, and can explain vaccine safety to help ensure you are educated and comfortable. As more health professionals enter the field, there are more trained experts to help with vaccine safety. There are some very rare and very mild side effects that can be the result of vaccinations.

These side effects completely depend on the immunization you got, and how your specific body will react to it. There are sometimes very mild side effects from getting a vaccine. As the vaccine enters your body and is pretending to be the infection, you may get some of the symptoms of that disease like a cold symptoms, or a slight fever that shows your body is fighting the infection. There may be soreness of muscles or redness at the injection site. All of these very mild side effects go away in a couple of days. There is a very rare chance you or your child could have more severe side effects that come from vaccines. High fevers, rashes, or neurological episodes are these very rare side effects.

Medical professionals are trained to deal directly with these kinds of side effects, and each of them is extremely rare— more rare than getting the disease that is being immunized against. Rarely, individuals will be allergic to vaccinations and can have reactions to their shots. While allergic reactions can be very dangerous, again, they are extremely rare. The CDC reports that in , only 33 people had a serious allergic reaction out of 25 million vaccines given. Many people have genetic indications that they could be allergic to vaccines and are able to work with health professionals to stay safe.

Vaccines are extremely effective at controlling or eliminating dangerous diseases. The World Health Organization reports that the measles vaccine has prevented more than 20 million deaths since Smallpox has been completely eradicated thanks to vaccinations, and polio is not far behind. Polio vaccines are still given to help keep control of the disease until it has been globally removed.

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