February 24, 2021

HENNIGAR: Vaccine a ‘decision you will have to make for yourself’

While it may seem to some that the process to develop a COVID-19 vaccine was rushed, and while “normal” vaccine development does usually take longer than it did for the current situation — these are unprecedented times. The entire world has been involved in the process of developing the COVID-19 vaccines, so resources for development have been greater than “normal.”

The fundamental foundation and theory on how a vaccine works has not changed. However, the current vaccines do use mRNA technology, which is new compared to previous vaccines. Modified RNA is a sequence of genetic code that tells a cell to make a specific protein. And although mRNA technology is new to vaccines, it is not new to medicine. It has been studied for years by companies such as BioNTech and Moderna, whose name is literally short for modified RNA.

The Moderna vaccine has a synthetic (human made) strand of mRNA. The spike protein that is produced is specific to SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. The body then identifies this protein as a foreign invader and produces antibodies against it. This allows your body to identify this protein and destroy it before it can cause illness when you encounter the actual virus in your day-to-day life. This Moderna vaccine has been approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization as well as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent body that recommends vaccines.

I personally received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on December 31, 2020. While there will always be some people who react to vaccines or have worse side effects than others, it is important to weigh the risks and/or possible side effects of the vaccine compared to the risks and potential outcomes of contracting the COVID-19 virus. This is a personal decision everyone will have to make for themselves.

For myself, the risks associated with contracting COVID-19 outweighed the risks of side effects from the vaccine. My decision to receive the vaccine was made with the safety of myself, my family and friends, my patients, and my small town community in mind.

This is a decision you will have to make for yourself. When doing research, please find credible scientific sources to seek answers to your questions. While social media can help guide you to these sources, there is also a large amount of non-credible information out there that is based on opinion and false information.

Note: The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was allocated to Adair County in December for public health workers. Future vaccine allocations may be Moderna or Pfizer.