MORE and more people have been encouraged to submit themselves to anti-Covid 19 vaccination as shown in the lists of registrants (both online and in the barangays) and the long queue at the vaccination sites. But the problem is we have a shortage of vaccines. Thus, a temporary suspension of the vaccination program again. We are still using the donated vaccines from China’s Sinovac. The vaccines that the government bought will still have to arrive next month.
Vaccination is among the safest and more effective ways to prevent morbidity and mortality from severe infectious diseases both on an individual and societal level. Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, some people decided against vaccination, which led to the recurrence of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. The “risk perception” is always there. It’s more on psychological aspect, thinking that it is risky to submit oneself to vaccination especially after negative reports. Well, in every undertaking or situation, there is always risk. Quoting boxing legend Muhammad Ali: “Life is a gamble. You get hurt, you will die. Same with fighters; some die, some get hurt, some go on. You just don’t let yourself believe it will happen to you.”
Let me first discuss here the positive developments of the vaccines against Covid-19 based on our research. Our Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) have already lifted the temporary suspension on the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to the issue of blood clot as side effect. In fact, millions of doses have arrived and those who got their first shot last March will be given their second dose at the end of this month. The DOH and FDA said AstraZeneca can already be administered to persons below 60 years old.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is 96 percent effective in teenagers, 12 to 17 years old, the drugmaker said. The company announced the results of its phase 2 trial, reporting first quarter earnings. Its vaccine generated $1.7 billion in revenue in its fiscal first quarter. Evidence that Moderna’s vaccine is effective in teens comes as rival Pfizer is expected to receive federal authorization to use Covid-19 in adolescents in the US.
One dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine was more than 86 percent effective at preventing Covid-19. South Korean health officials said that more than 520,000 Koreans over 60 had a single shot. The date from South Korea did not show how long protection lasts.
On the other hand, as more people are getting vaccinated, medical experts in the UK and in the US are holding trial to find out if giving two doses of different Covid-19 vaccines improves the immune response. Scientists have been combining or mixing vaccines in the past with several diseases like malaria, TB and influenza. Mixing Covid-19 vaccines is a new concept that has not been approved yet by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but experts say that it could change in the future.
More than 800 people in the UK are part of the trial where they are getting injected with one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days later with a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of a Pfizer shot for a second shot. “There is absolutely a possibility and I think it’s quite an exciting possibility that if you combine these two different vaccines you can broaden that immune response,” said Helen Fletcher, BSc PhD, professor at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
On the negative reports, quoting a US report: “An elderly Nebraska woman has died from coronavirus despite completing the vaccine process. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the woman in her 80s with underlying medical conditions developed Covid-19 and was hospitalized for more than 14 days after completing a vaccination series with the Pfizer vaccine. According to the DHHS, this is the first death due to Covid-19 after completing a vaccination series in Nebraska. Of the 2,244 people that have died in Nebraska, only one of these had been fully vaccinated.
While Indian Express newspaper reported that a world-renowned infectious disease expert died at 81 of Covid-19. Dr. Rajendra Kapila succumbed to the coronavirus in New Delhi last April 28. Dr. Kapila and his wife got both the Pfizer doses in the US. The couple had returned to India in March and stayed in Ghaziabad. He was supposed to return to the US in the second week of April, but had to be hospitalized after testing positive for Covid.
The Los Angeles Times also reported that an 80-year-old practicing psychologist died of Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated. Carey Alexander Washington received his second dose last Feb. 4. A little more than a month later, he experienced shortness of breath. His internist did not test him for the virus as he was already fully vaccinated. After two weeks in the intensive care unit, he died and his doctors found out that Covid-19 had destroyed his lungs.
So, with these documented cases, it’s not a guarantee that once you will be fully vaccinated you will not be infected with Covi-19 and die. But these are isolated cases. A small percentage of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will develop the illness. Covid-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get Covid-19 if they are exposed to the virus. So, those already vaccinated should not be too complacent and should still adopt the minimum safety health protocols to avoid infection.