I'm all for vaccines. My grandfather had polio at age seven and was one of the lucky ones – only losing the use of one arm for the rest of his life. I've worked on health projects in the developing world and have seen the gut-wrenching realities of kids dying from preventable diseases due to lack of available vaccines. I'm appreciative and impressed at the Trump administration's work on developing multiple vaccines through the beauty of the free market.
That being said, I'm also opposed to anyone being forced to take a vaccine and agree there are dubious elements such as aborted baby cells used in vaccine research. There's also a lot (a lot) of money riding on their successful development, which tends to positively create pressure to get it right and negatively create pressure to sweep unsavory things under the rug.
The FDA has said the first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer is "safe and effective." I have no doubt that it is – for the majority of the population, at any rate. Whether or not taking it leads to better outcomes than the 99.98% recovery rate from the 'Rona itself is unknown though, since we have months of global data on the 'Rona at this point and very little on the multiple vaccines in the pipeline.
While it might be safe for most, 10-15% of people are reporting "significantly noticeable" side effects, so there's certainly room for this thing to cause greater problems in younger demographics who are not at risk from the virus itself.
Those involved in Pfizer and Moderna's trials are especially warning that the second doses of the vaccines are a bit more intense than your average flu shot. Multiple participants have indicated that the first shot resulted in a bit of local soreness while the second gave them some pretty gnarly flu symptoms.
Here's how 24-year-old volunteer Yasir Batalvi described his experience:
"After the [second] injection, I had the same side effects as the first: localized pain and stiffness, but it was a little bit worse," he said. "My arm got sore faster, and by the time I got home, I started feeling fatigued and like anyone would feel if they were coming down with the flu. I developed a low-grade fever and had chills. That evening was rough."
Other participants warned of chills, headaches, and fevers. One dude said he woke up with his muscles shaking so hard that he cracked a tooth.
"If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up," said another North Carolina volunteer in her 50s. "The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure... You will need to take a day off after the second dose."
What will this look like when we start delivering hundreds of millions of doses to U.S. citizens and then billions around the world? No one yet knows. The question on everyone's minds is if the cure is worse than the disease.
Since 80% of people infected with the 'Rona don't even know they have it, the jury is still out on what demographic reacts the worst to the vaccine. Perhaps those most susceptible to the virus get the worst vaccine symptoms. If that's the case, feeling mildly sick for a few days seems like a good trade for a ventilator. Knowing you're not going to unknowingly spread the virus to grandma might be worth the literal headache too.
We can take heart, however, that at least two groups of people will benefit from either a success or a failure here! If the vaccine succeeds, politicians and drug companies get lots of accolades and money. If it fails, politicians get even more excuses to wield power over you and the drug companies still get money to find a solution to the failed solution.
It could always be worse. You could be like my friend who lives in the Arabian Gulf and potentially be forced to take a Chinese vaccine. As everyone knows, "made in China" is synonymous with quality and safety! That should be fun.