People all around the world have been sharing their thoughts on the Covid-19 vaccine. Sure we all have the right to an opinion, but when considering issues of global significance such as the coronavirus, are we asking the pertinent questions that will measure the credibility of the information we entertain? In the public health fraternity, it is customary and expected for the professionals to critically appraise the literature and research studies. What if we all adopted this practice when we come across information found on the internet and social media? Here are some critical questions to ask when presented with information in these spaces on the topic.
- Is the information coming from a credible source?
- Is the person speaking a trained professional qualified in the area?
- Did the person presenting on the topic declare any conflicts of interest?
These are the questions that need answers when informing decisions that can significantly impact morbidity and mortality.
So let’s explore the dynamics concerning the coronavirus vaccine. It’s out there; the opinion that the vaccine was created “too quickly” and therefore we should be wary of its safety. In 2004, Urban and Vogel published an editorial titled “A New Influenza Pandemic, Unprepared for a Big Threat.” In this article, the author explored the probability that a global pandemic was inevitable and stated that the World Health Organization was preparing for the potential situation. Using this information, let’s ask some questions about the development of the coronavirus vaccine once again. Was the response to the vaccine as quick as persons on social media claim or, were scientists preparing the response and the technology for this pandemic decades ago? These questions ought to lead us to ask, “Can we trust the scientists and take the vaccination that they have prepared to respond to the coronavirus pandemic?”
Let us explore the facts:
- December 2020 marks the date that the first mass vaccination program against the novel coronavirus began.
- As of February 15 2021, 175.3 million vaccine doses were administered.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on the how speed for vaccine production originated: “The process to develop COVID vaccines is fast-tracked while maintaining the highest standards: Given the urgent need to stop the pandemic, pauses between steps, often needed to secure funding, have been shortened, or eliminated, and in some cases, steps are being carried out in parallel to accelerate the process, wherever that is safe to do. COVID-19 vaccine developers have issued a joint pledge not to seek government approval for their vaccines until they’ve been proven to be safe and effective.”
- After a COVID-19 vaccine is introduced, the WHO supports work with vaccine manufacturers, health officials in each country, and other partners to monitor any safety concerns on an ongoing basis.
The facts above represent the systems that we’ve depended on as a global community to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; the polio vaccine; the tetanus toxoid vaccine and the yearly influenza vaccine. This shows that we’ve trusted this exact science before to help us respond to infectious diseases. Once again, we turn to the technology of vaccinations to assist our response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This global pandemic has already claimed millions of lives. We all have a responsibility to examine the facts and make informed decisions to protect our own lives and the lives of those we love and care for. I’ll drop in again soon with another post, and in that blog, we’ll look closely at the way vaccinations work and how the AstraZeneca vaccine will be effective in the fight against Covid-19.
Lisa Brathwaite – Graham RN BSN MPH
Medical & Health Services Administrator