Your Turn: Please Get the Vaccine
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc all over the world. Having seen my patients and family members suffer the extreme consequences of the disease, I welcome any meaningful intervention to stop the spread or lessen its impact. This includes washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer after touching surfaces, and wearing a mask consistently over your mouth and nose while interacting with other people.
To this armamentarium or resources to fight COVID-19 we have a new addition—the VACCINE.
As a doctor, I have received numerous questions from friends, family members and coworkers about the COVID-19 vaccine. I hope to allay your fears and concerns about getting vaccinated and share how the technology that helped develop the vaccine may help us treat cancer in the future.
First, I like to point out that I received the vaccine myself. Other than some slight discomfort with the second dose, I experienced no ill effects.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines utilize messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA vaccines are very specific. When the vaccine is injected into your body, your cells start building the proteins. Your body then mounts an immune response by producing antibodies to fight the virus’ spike proteins. This prepares your immune system to fight the real virus if you encounter it later. The response is similar to the process your body would go through if you were naturally exposed to the virus and fought it off. Vaccines do this in a much safer and efficient manner.
By taking the vaccine, you significantly reduce your chance of catching the virus. Even if you do contract the virus, the ill effects are way reduced. Most importantly, you significantly reduce spreading the virus to the people you care about. This technology will not only help us save lives today, but in the future. It might have applications that could help us treat cancer patients by helping the body identify and neutralize cancer cells. Currently, the vaccine is being used in melanoma and pancreatic cancer trials.
So, when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, or if it is already available to you, please get your vaccine. I am hopeful with widespread vaccine administration and consistent mask wearing we will be able to eliminate this disease.