Hey Professor! | April 28, 2021

Hey Professor!

I’m young and healthy and have heard some scary stuff about the COVID-19 vaccination. Does it really
matter if I get it?

Sincerely,
On the Fence

Dear On the Fence,

Yes, it matters! You may not be as affected by COVID-19 as others, although the long-term effects of
COVID-19 may be worse than you think. Perhaps more important, without vaccination, you can easily
spread the virus and can help it mutate into more resistant variants. Finally, whatever stories or rumors
you’ve heard about the dangers of the vaccines are either untrue or overblown. Check out the facts and
join the (green) wave of vaccinations rolling across Tulane.

Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the first 13,794,904 COVID-19
vaccine doses administered, there were only 113 deaths in a population weighted heavily toward the
elderly and not above expectations for unvaccinated individuals. As to side effects, fatigue, headache,
chills, fever and muscle or joint pain are seen in about 20-50% of people as well as injection site pain, but
that usually passes in a few days. If you are one of those rare individuals who contract COVID-19 after
vaccination, you are extremely unlikely to require hospitalization or to die of the disease: the Pfizer and
Moderna vaccines are 95-100% effective in preventing severe disease. Cumulatively in the U.S., there
have been more than 570,000 deaths from COVID-19, and the disease remains rampant.
Young adults and COVID-19: People younger than 13 are much more resistant to SARS-CoV-2
infection than teenagers or young adults. Alarmingly, the highest percent increase in infections now vs.
earlier is in 18-24-year-olds. And having been infected before doesn’t mean you can’t be reinfected.
Deaths from COVID-19 among 18-29-year-olds is uncommon, but scientists remain concerned about the
potential for subtle or delayed organ dysfunction because SARS-CoV-2 binds to cells via the ACE2
receptor that is present in nearly every human tissue. One of the distressing findings for COVID-19
survivors, even among young and previously fit adults, is long-lasting multi-organ disease after the virus
is no longer detected (long-haulers).

Virus variants

While vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are less effective against some of the worrisome
recently spreading variants of the virus, they still seem to offer much protection against most of them,
although we await more data.

Getting life back to normal

Many public activities and travel will probably soon require proof of
vaccination. Perhaps most importantly, we take seriously our obligations to the larger community,
including greater New Orleans. With or without symptoms, we can unwittingly transmit the virus and
serve as reservoirs for virus multiplication. The more virus multiplication, the more potentially vaccine-
resistant virus variants are generated. Now it’s time for us to reclaim our lives together, to get everyone
vaccinated and beat back this pandemic.
Doing your part not only protects you but makes you feel darn good for protecting others. Want more
information? Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/.

Melanie Ehrlich contributed to this article.
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