As of press time the Covid-19 pandemic has killed 47 Knox Countians, 7,486 Kentuckians, and 621,000 Americans. Just over 50% of the US population and 46.7% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated. In Knox County the vaccination rate drops to 26.8% as many remain hesitant to get the shot.
“All three vaccines authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe and effective in preventing severe COVID-19. They continue to undergo continuous and intense safety monitoring,” says the website for Johns Hopkins Medicine. The university was ranked ninth in the country by U.S. News and World Report for 2021 and has been tracking the pandemic since SARS-COV-2 emerged in 2019.
According to The Mayo Clinic, often ranked the as the best hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report, “vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic.” The clinic’s website offers an extensive fact sheet on Covid-19 vaccines and addresses many of the most common concerns.
A major sticking point for many is the status of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) authorization. The current vaccines were approved through “emergency use authorization” which works differently than the usual process that can take much longer. “Data must show that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can give emergency use authorization. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA, says the Mayo Clinic. When the FDA announced the first vaccine to receive emergency authorization, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn M.D. stated “Today’s action follows an open and transparent review process that included input from independent scientific and public health experts and a thorough evaluation by the agency’s career scientists to ensure this vaccine met FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”
“Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” reads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. “A 90 percent decrease in risk of infections, and 94 percent effectiveness against hospitalization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is fantastic,” said DR. Paul Goepfert, Director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to the school’s news outlet. Goepfert and other experts agree that there is little to worry about in terms of long-term side effects related to the vaccines, “Vaccines are just designed to deliver a payload and then are quickly eliminated by the body,” Goepfert said. “This is particularly true of the mRNA vaccines. mRNA degrades incredibly rapidly. You wouldn’t expect any of these vaccines to have any long-term side effects. And in fact, this has never occurred with any vaccine,” he stated.
While some adverse reactions to the vaccines have been reported, the numbers remain small compared to the total number of vaccinated individuals. Confusion about the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) has led some to state that deaths caused by the vaccines exceed 6,000; 12,000 according to some debunked social media posts. It is true that between December 14 and July 19 the CDC received 6,207 reports of people dying after receiving the vaccine. This comes with the important caveat however that the “FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause.” Anyone can report an event using VAERS and the CDC website states “The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.”
It is true some adverse effects have been attributed to Covid vaccines. The CDC and FDA however state that the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks. If the 6,702 deaths reported to VAERS were all confirmed to be vaccine related, they would account for just 0.0018% of the 339 million that had been administered. An April study linked three deaths to blood clots related to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Around 23 cases of these blood clots had been reported out of 8.4 million doses and were not reported with the other vaccines.
Many people decide not to get vaccinated due to the virus having a “99% survival rate,” as some social media posts claim. The national average survival rate for a positive Covid test was 98.2% as of July 23, likely higher due to unconfirmed cases. This does not take into account much higher rates of death as age increases from the group with the highest number of cases, 18-29-year olds. CDC data shows that the odds of dying increase with each subsequent age group; from four times higher in the 30-39 range to 600 times higher for those over 85. 79% of Covid deaths have been in those over 65 while another 18% are 45 to 64.
“Johns Hopkins Medicine views all three available COVID-19 vaccines as highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. We believe the benefits of being vaccinated for COVID-19 significantly outweigh the risks,” reads the Johns Hopkins website. Although no vaccine is 100% effective or without risks, the Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to be an important tool in ending the pandemic. As of August 9, the CDC reported only 0.0005% of the more than 166 million fully vaccinated Americans had been hospitalized or died from the virus. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, has said 99.5% of all Covid-19 deaths are amongst the unvaccinated.