At long last, I’m happy to report that I have completed my COVID-19 vaccinations. There’s no shortage of “getting back to normal” things I’m looking forward to as the year progresses, but visiting with all of my family tops the list.
Vaccines are an everyday topic around the world. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular by reading material from the CDC, FDA and other sources I trust, from watching the news, and from listening to people discuss their experiences. Through the process of getting that education, I of course am aware that many people still have concerns and hesitations about getting vaccinated. Everyone will have to decide for themselves, but if you have any doubts at all, I strongly encourage you to prioritize getting the facts. The CDC website is a great resource. Every major news organization covers the situation. We have also reported about vaccination safety on our website and in the LOG, in an attempt to take a sometimes-overwhelming topic and boil it down to essentials.
To me, while there are questions about how long the vaccines will remain effective, I do not doubt their safety at all. I understand people may be wary because the vaccines were developed relatively quickly, but in doing my own research, I was reassured by several key points. First, we basically had scientists all over the world working on it around the clock, with no shortage of resources. Second, even though the COVID-19 pandemic itself is unprecedented in modern times, those scientists were not starting from scratch. Because of other, older variations of coronavirus, they had been working on a blueprint for such a vaccine for many years. In fact, they already developed a successful vaccine for an earlier coronavirus that surfaced in 2012, for example.
As of this writing in mid-April, more than 170 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. This has happened under what the CDC describes as “the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.”
The agency further recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible, and the SIU wholeheartedly backs that advice. I’m encouraged by how many of our members already have either gotten vaccinated or have registered for the vaccine, and I look forward to those numbers steadily growing.
Another concern I’ve read is that the vaccines have only been given the green light for “emergency use authorization” by the FDA. That’s because of basic protocols; vaccines can’t be fully, formally approved until longer-term clinical trials are completed.
The standards for emergency use authorization are anything but lax. They’re vigorous, in fact, when it comes to safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. The vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in trials, and they’re working as intended.
No matter how much I read or watch, I’ll only have a layman’s understanding of these vaccines. In no way am I pretending to be an expert. But you don’t have to be an expert to logically conclude that the vaccines are safe and effective. They most likely will prevent an individual from getting COVID-19, and if they don’t, the vaccines at least will almost certainly prevent severe cases.
We’ll be having this discussion for a while. It’s still relatively new, not just for our union or our industry, but for our country and indeed our world. But I’m already firmly convinced that the vaccines are the way to go. I urge you to get the facts, roll up your sleeves and get the vaccine, for your safety and for the safety of your families and shipmates.