Des Moines University is very encouraged that many people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep us all safe, but we still need to increase our vaccination rate so we all can return to the moments and people we miss most.
We know many people have questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, and we encourage you to find the answers because deciding to get vaccinated is up to each one of us. In the same manner that we encourage our health sciences students to seek answers to questions, we ask everyone to learn the healthy truth about getting vaccinated. Wanting to know more is important. It’s up to you to be informed about COVID-19 vaccines. A great non-partisan resource to visit is www.getvaccineanswers.org.
Public health professionals around the world have been clear in saying the science behind the vaccines is proven to be safe and effective. Sometimes people mistake the speed at which the vaccines have been made with a short cut in the quality of the science. That is simply not true. In this case, speed did not sacrifice safety. In fact, the fast development of COVID-19 vaccines is due to years of research on other viruses around the world. Scientists did not start their research from scratch.
Another myth to address is that a vaccine could cause COVID-19. That is not true. None of the vaccines approved by the FDA contain the live coronavirus, nor do they contain a weakened or dead version of the coronavirus. The vaccines have no coronavirus to pass on to you.
Lastly, some individuals have expressed concern that the vaccine will alter one’s immune system. None of the technologies used in the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA can alter your immune system. Vaccines work by stimulating an immune response. An immune response disarms an invading virus to protect you from harm. An immune response does not alter or transform your immune system.
Bottom line: The vaccines can save hundreds of thousands of lives—but they can only be effective if people understand the safety of being vaccinated and then get their vaccines. Protecting ourselves also protects the people around us. We urge everyone to learn more about the vaccines and how they can safely protect us all. In the end, it’s up to you.
Rachel Reimer, Ph.D., is associate professor of public health and chair/program director of Des Moines University’s public health department, which includes the University’s master of public health and master of health care administration degree programs.