Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a matter of individual choice. Neither the U.S. nor Nevada government is mandating that residents get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, vaccinating the population so we can end this pandemic is a race against time.
• The pandemic will likely not end until enough of the population is vaccinated and has immunity, so the virus can no longer gain traction.
• If enough people opt out of getting the vaccine, or choose to wait, the pandemic will be prolonged, enabling potentially more dangerous and contagious variants to develop.
• Most scientists agree that about 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
• As COVID-19 mutates, and new and more dangerous variants emerge, our currently authorized vaccines may become less effective at preventing infection. If we can achieve herd immunity, we can stop the spread of these dangerous variants.
• If we want to keep business and schools open, travel freely and get back to group gatherings, we need to stop the spread of COVID-19. The vaccine is how we stop it.
More information about COVID-19 vaccines
Consider the potential risks that come with COVID-19 infection versus the potential risks of vaccination.
While some people have very mild cases of COVID-19 infection and recover quickly, others, who are otherwise healthy, have not fared so well. Many have gotten very ill and were hospitalized, others have died. One in three COVID-19 survivors have been diagnosed with brain or mental health disorder within 6 months of infection. Then there are the tens of thousands of people in the U.S. with lingering illness months after their COVID-19 infection, also called long haulers. They endure crushing fatigue, insomnia, trouble concentrating, shortness of breath, and muscle pain. Now some of those long-suffering patients are finally seeing relief after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine side-effects most commonly reported are sore arm, headache, and fatigue that resolve in a day
Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) sped up the process, but did not skip steps in the rigorous approval process.
Some people are concerned that the vaccines being distributed were authorized under FDA Emergency Use Authorization, but are not yet "approved." It is important to understand the distinction. There are two ways to get a vaccine greenlighted by the FDA: with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or by applying for a license through a Biologics License Application (BLA). The main difference between the two processes is a longer observation period of clinical trial participants to see both the duration of protection and any rare adverse events that may occur (for EUA, it's an average of two months of observation, for a license, six months are required). EUA was invoked due to the high rate of serious illness and death resulting from COVID-19 infection. Leading up to authorization of the first vaccine, 292,000 people in the U.S. had died as a direct result of COVID-19 infection. Wating for longer-term results from trials would mean a higher loss of life. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson* have announced they plan to apply for approval through BLA in 2021.
If vaccine side effects are going to occur, they usually happen within a few months of getting a vaccine.
So while people are concerned about potential long-term side effects, they are simply not being reported by trial participants who are now 8+ months post-vaccine, nor by the 200 million people who had received the vaccine by the end of February, nor by the 905 million people who have received a vaccine as of April 19.
All safety concerns are taken seriously, no matter how rare.
After six women of the 6.8 million people who received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine reported getting blood clots, the FDA and CDC called for an immediate pause in the use of the vaccine on April 13. Despite the fact that the number of affected people is incredibly small, that this adverse reaction is incredibly rare, and that it has not yet been established if the vaccine was the cause of the blood clots, the FDA and CDC acted swiftly to pause use. This pause gives scientists an opportunity to collect and study the data so they can determine causality, as well as appropriate and effective treatment.
Information is being shared in an unprecedented way.
The pharmaceutical companies have been transparent with their process to build confidence in their vaccines. We know exactly what is in the vaccines (see the FAQ on vaccine ingredients), how many clinical trial participants experienced side effects, the age and ethnicity of trial participants, and even which vaccines were abandoned during the process and why.
Find more answers to common vaccine questions.