Vaccines! Vaccines!

Just about everyone at the hospital was thrilled when we heard we would start giving vaccines to the staff before Christmas.

We started on December 17th, and had just over 350 people go through in 4 hours. We are now averaging well over 1000 doses per day within our hospital system and the county is now starting to branch out to other healthcare workers (physicians and their office staff), as well as our elderly and their caregivers. In just under 4 weeks, we have given well over 21,000 doses within our system and are giving second doses to those who were in the first week. This doesn’t include other facilities within Santa Clara County, like Stanford or Kaiser.

Do we know all of the fine details about the vaccines? Of course not. Just like this pandemic, what we know at the beginning is not what we will know 3 months or 6 months in the future, let alone years from now. We can’t say how long the vaccine will last yet (but at least 8 months). We don’t know whether folks will require booster vaccinations after the initial series.

Despite claims, this vaccine has gone through the exact same scrutiny that other vaccines have. We are doing the longer-term follow up, just like normal. What is different is the speed with which these vaccines were reviewed — on average, a new drug or vaccine sits in limbo for 2-3 years before the review is done. In addition, we had far more people in the studies than is typical. And we are continuing to do post-vaccination followups, not only with the study participants, but with everyone who is getting the vaccine. I expect in the end, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be the most studied vaccines we’ve ever had.

Yes, mRNA vaccines are new. But we have been studying them for a couple of decades, and they are being looked at as possible anti-cancer vaccines. Sounds like a SciFi novel, but reality gets closer to fiction every day. They don’t change your DNA, because they can’t. They do use your body’s “assembly line” to make the protein that stimulates the antibody creation. That’s the same thing that a virus does.

Most of the reactions that people are talking about are the same reactions your body has when fighting off any infection, whether bacterial or viral. Fever, chills, body aches. It means things are working. Not everyone has the same reaction, and not everyone will have the same reaction with both doses.

Please get your vaccine as soon as your are able to do so.

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