Several weeks ago, we had two consecutive weeks without any reported cases of COVID-19. Then we had one week of five cases followed by last week at 8 reported cases. We have reports from Abilene hospitals that their ICUs are beginning to fill up again. And a report from Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth that they are preparing their COVID wing again. Across the country, nearly all states are showing an increase in reported COVID cases. While vaccinated individuals who are exposed to the virus can indeed have symptoms, the symptoms are mild and generally do not require hospitalizations. 97% of admissions to hospitals across the country for COVID illness are in unvaccinated individuals.
We encourage everyone of appropriate age to get the vaccine. School will be starting, and it is important to be able to keep our classrooms open. Over the past several weeks, I have addressed many patients who have fears about the vaccine. Here are a few facts:
- The vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer cannot give you COVID. The reaction varies in individuals from totally asymptomatic to moderate symptoms including low fever, myalgias and fatigue.
- The vaccine is new. While this is a new type of vaccine called mRNA (messenger RNA), this science is not new. There have been many scientists in a variety of educational institutions working on RNA technology. They assisted the pharmaceutical companies in producing the vaccine. These experts were able to map out the genetic code for the COVID virus in a very short time because they had been using that type of technology for many years. Then, they were able to identify on the viral RNA, the sequence that coded (blueprint) for the protein spikes. They used messenger RNA to produce a reverse code for those spikes. (This is how mRNA works in our own bodies). That is injected into the muscle. The cells absorb the mRNA and begin making the protein spikes. Our immune system sees these spike and makes antibodies (humeral immunity) and as well utilize the T-helper cells to fight the virus (cellular immunity). The mRNA does not last long in the cell once its job is done. Since only the blueprint for the spikes is introduced to the muscle cells, then no COVID viruses can be produced and thus no infection can occur.
- This vaccine is effective as can be seen by the low, low numbers of vaccinated individuals now being admitted to the hospital. The same thing occurs in the flu vaccine. It provides you protection and lessens your chance of going to the hospital.
Be safe, be cautious. Get Vaccinated
Dr. Robert DeLuca