A couple of months ago, I started having conversations with friends about getting their COVID-19 vaccine.
Most had already been, were keen to be vaccinated, or had made appointments.
However, a few were quite hesitant and had delayed their jab.
Side note: Watch the characters who would own the pandemic. Post continues below.
At the time of these discussions, there were few cases in Australia. But as the last two months of outbreaks across the country have shown, it can all change so quickly.
Lockdowns and other restrictions are short-term solutions.
There is a path out of this chaos and uncertainty. We have safe and effective vaccines. They are the closest thing we have to a silver bullet. It simply requires most of the population to get vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is a major obstacle to this goal of ‘herd immunity’.
Some people have the opinion that the available vaccines were developed too quickly.
Others seem to think that the risk of death or serious long-term illness from COVID-19 is more palatable than the risk of a rare vaccine side effect.
Some mistakenly think there is no risk of getting COVID at all. Let’s explore the facts:
COVID-19 vaccines are based on decades of groundwork
What might seem like an overnight discovery to the rest of the world is actually the product of years of painstaking, highly technical and innovative work.
COVID-19 vaccines are based on decades of research in the context of other infections.
For example, Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine, cut her teeth in the 1990s developing malaria vaccines and conducting clinical trials in the UK and Africa.
Until COVID-19 came along, Gilbert’s team were developing vaccines for other diseases including Ebola and MERS (also caused by a coronavirus).
When the genome of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) was released, Gilbert’s team were able to quickly design the new vaccine, literally over the weekend.
There is no time to delay when a pandemic is unfolding.