Having lived through the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for the past year, the distribution of a vaccine comes as a relief for many Americans. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have received authorization for distribution. 

This rapid vaccine development and distribution is the result of Operation Warp Speed. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Operation Warp Speed’s goal was to provide 300 million first doses of the vaccine to Americans by January of 2021 without sacrificing its safety or efficiency. 

According to USA Today, as of Feb. 4, only 8.4 percent of Americans have gotten their first vaccine dose, and only 2.1 percent of Americans have gotten their second dose.  

COVID-19 first reached America on Jan. 20, 2020. Since then, it has proved to be a relentless and life-threatening illness, deserving of the term the world has coined to describe it — ‘unprecedented.’  

According to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the man who has become the figurehead of the scientific community’s battle against COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that this virus is unique in terms of its ease of transmission.

“One thinks about the worst nightmare of an infectious disease person who’s interested in global health and outbreaks: It’s the combination of a new microbe that has a spectacular degree of capability of transmitting, and has a considerable degree of morbidity and mortality. And here it is, it’s happened — your worst nightmare, the perfect storm,” said Fauci in a virtual interview with Stanford Medicine. 

Even with all of these factors obstructing COVID-19’s eradication, refusal from the public to receive the vaccination also stands in the way of the fight against the virus. 

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in November of 2020, only 60 percent of surveyed Americans said that they are likely to get the vaccine when it becomes available. Over the past few months, these numbers have risen. 

According to The Washington Post, some concern over the vaccine has been propagated by the spread of misinformation on various social media platforms. Some of this concern centers around the fear that the vaccine contains tracking devices or can cause one to become afflicted by COVID-19.  

Spreading rumors such as these and inciting fear among the American public is counterproductive and prevents the country from eradicating this virus with the long anticipated vaccine. 

Some people have expressed concern over the possibility of the vaccine causing infertility in women. Social media has been a big contributor to this fear, as false statements on social media have claimed that the vaccine is linked to infertility in women. According to the FDA, there is no evidence to support this fear. 

Another reason cited by many for refusal of the vaccine centers around concern of the potential side effects of the vaccine. 

Regarding the minor effects, recipients may experience symptoms such as a low grade fever and injection site soreness, according to Michigan Health. Such symptoms are associated with all vaccines and are not specific to COVID-19 vaccines. The more serious effects, such as an allergic reaction, is said to be highly unlikely. Allergic reactions are possible with all vaccines, not just the COVID-19 vaccines. 

It is important to bear in mind that the harmful effects of COVID-19 far outweigh those of the vaccines for the virus. According to Mayo Clinic, if someone contracts COVID-19 and survives, he or she could still experience heart, lung, or brain damage, blood clots, or chronic fatigue in the future. 

Even among those who suffered only mild symptoms from COVID-19, long-term and severe effects of the virus still affect these people well into the future.

Without willingness from the public to receive the vaccine, it serves no purpose. All of the funds, efforts, and sacrifices put into the development of the vaccine will have been for nothing. 

If people refuse the vaccine, there is no hope of life returning to normal. The amount of infected people will skyrocket, with the number of deaths due to COVID-19 closely following. 

Presently, 2.28 million people throughout the world, including 451 thousand Americans, have died due to COVID-19, according to The New York Times. These values are expected to rise rapidly.

As these cases rise, hospitals all across America are being filled. According to US News and World Report, in the Midwest, South, and Southwest regions of the US, many hospitals’ ICUs are at or close to reaching capacity. 

It appears that our only hope for recovery is in the vaccine. The longer we wait, the more lives we will lose to this deadly virus. 

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