EDITORIAL: Why you should get vaccinated

More than a year after New Mexico instituted a statewide lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, stores, schools, and workplaces are reopening and New Mexicans are returning to a semblance of normalcy. This return, however, is short lived. The state is leading the way nationally for vaccinations, but rates are declining as fewer and fewer people register. Unless a vast majority of the population gets vaccinated, we will experience surges of coronavirus for years to come. The only way to beat the pandemic is through vaccination. With enough vaccinations in the state, the remaining portion of the population, who may be unable to be vaccinated due to an underlying health condition, will be protected through herd immunity. While thresholds for herd immunity vary with each disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, estimated that more than 80 percent of a population must be vaccinated to protect everyone against COVID-19.
Numerous studies have shown that once fully vaccinated, people can safely gather in groups comprising multiple households without wearing masks. You could safely dine indoors at a restaurant, travel within your state, take occasional flights to visit vaccinated relatives in the U.S., hug a vaccinated neighbor, compete at a state track meet, or go on a first date with another vaccinated person. These activities, once seen as normal, feel alien and dangerous to us. Despite the overwhelming benefits, millions of Americans still refuse to be vaccinated. Their arguments range from concerns over efficacy, possible side effects, and the long-held myth that vaccinations can lead to autism.
Despite the accelerated schedule of the vaccine development, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested on one of the largest sample sizes in history, and both work properly more often than flu, shingles, and pneumonia vaccines. By developing a vaccine with 90 percent effectiveness in just a few months, the pharmaceutical community achieved what no one thought possible – a feat akin to the moon landing.
The side effects of the vaccines are real, and if you have concerns about them, you should talk to your doctor. But for most people, these side effects are short-lived and harmless. For a short while, you may experience some arm pain, a headache, chills or maybe even a fever, but these are all signs that the vaccine is working as intended and is triggering an immune response. If you had to bite your lip to prevent yourself from dying, you would. This is the same thing. The normal side effects are small, and the benefits far outweigh them in the long run. As for more extreme reactions to the vaccine, like the blood clots that got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine temporarily put on hold, only six people out of nearly seven million who got the shot had severe reactions, and only one died. All of these six had cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – an extremely rare blood clotting condition. Of the 99.99998 percent who were free of severe symptoms, tens of thousands would have died had they gotten COVID-19. So the question of vaccination is like the trolley problem, except rather than choosing between one life and five, you risk hundreds of lives by not getting vaccinated.
The false link of vaccination to autism was started by a fraudulent article in the Lancet, published in 1998 and later retracted by the journal. The author, Andrew Wakefield, was paid by a compensation lawyer, Richard Barr, to create evidence for a court case. This hoax has led to a marked decrease in vaccinations, leading to an increase of preventable deaths.
By not getting the COVID-19 vaccine, not only are you missing out on the possibility of returning to a more normal life and risking the possibility of getting sick yourself, you are endangering hundreds of other lives. Not getting the vaccine is like driving a car drunk, you cannot control what will happen to you, or anyone else around you. The answer is simple, in order to protect yourself, your family, Albuquerque Academy, and New Mexico as a whole, you must get vaccinated.