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Guest column: Answering some COVID-19 vaccination questions

by Lake County-CSKT Unified Command Center
| March 31, 2021 12:00 AM

The Lake County-CSKT Unified Command Center (UCC) urges every resident to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The shots are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. As of April 1, every Montanan age 16 and older is eligible.

The UCC wanted to offer some background information to help reduce any concerns regarding the vaccine.

How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?

  • In the past, vaccines have taken many years to develop. However, the relatively quick development of this vaccine does not mean safety measures were skipped. There are several reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines were developed faster than other vaccines:
  • The mRNA technology used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines has been years in development to prepare for outbreaks of infectious viruses. Thus, the manufacturing process was ready very early in the pandemic.
  • China shared genetic information about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus when it was available, which gave vaccine developers an early start at finding a vaccine.
  • The testing processes for the vaccines didn’t skip any steps, but the vaccine developers conducted some stages of the process simultaneously to gather as much data as quickly as possible.
  • Governments gave money to vaccine developers in advance, so the companies had resources they needed.
  • Some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), a new technology that allows a faster approach than the traditional way vaccines are made.
  • Social media enabled companies to reach out to and enroll study volunteers, and plenty of people wanted to help, so there were enough research participants to test the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Because the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is so contagious and widespread, many volunteers who got the vaccine were exposed to the virus, and with so many exposures, the trials took a shorter time to see if the vaccine worked.
  • Companies began manufacturing vaccines ahead of their authorization or approval so some supplies would be ready if authorization occurred.

A COVID-19 vaccine might:

  • Prevent you from getting COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID.
  • Prevent you from spreading the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • Add to the number of people in the community who are protected from getting COVID-19 — making it harder for the disease to spread and contributing to herd immunity.
  • Prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading and replicating, which allows it to mutate and possibly become more resistant to vaccines.