Unlike most of us, Costi Sifri, MD, wasn’t caught off guard by the COVID-19 pandemic. An infectious disease expert, he’s been studying the emergence of contagious diseases for 20 years. He knows well the power of tiny microbes. And like an earthquake scientist, he knew someday the big one would hit.
“I’m never surprised by how witty or diabolical single-cell or viral microbes are,” he says, adding, “They are built to survive.”
But he was happily surprised that a vaccine against COVID emerged so quickly. Scientists gave the first dose to a person only 66 days after publication of the genetic code of the virus behind this deadly disease. Within nine months, rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people from all walks of life proved that the vaccines were highly safe and effective.
When his turn came, Sifri was happy to get the COVID vaccine. However, he understands how it’s human nature to be wary of something new.
3 Reasons To Get the Shot
You might still be asking, “Should I get the COVID vaccine?” For those on the fence, Sifri offers 3 reassuring and compelling reasons to get yourself and your family vaccinated. Above all, he says, “The fundamentally important thing to understand is COVID-19 is a vaccine-preventable disease. We no longer have to accept so many hospitalizations and deaths. We have the tools to solve it.”
The COVID Vaccine is Safe
Yes, the vaccines were available in record time. That's only because they were built on 20 years of research and development ground work, Sifri says. He’s part of an advisory committee that reviewed the clinical trial safety data before vaccines became available in Virginia.
In 2003, researchers developed a vaccine targeting a coronavirus — the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus. They never needed it because other public health measures stopped the SARS outbreak. COVID vaccines use platforms that helped end the Ebola virus epidemic. Scientists have long studied them for preventing cancer and infectious diseases like HIV.
The Virus is a Major Threat
The coronavirus has single handedly lowered the average life expectancy in the US. While there have been very rare vaccine side effects, doctors know how to recognize and treat them.
The Vaccine Protects You and Those Who Can’t Protect Themselves
Highly effective, a COVID vaccine greatly reduces the chances you will have severe COVID that lands you in the hospital or leads to long-hauler syndrome. It also greatly reduces the likelihood you’ll pass COVID to someone else.
The COVID vaccine is free and available for anyone 5+.
You can protect those who are immunocompromised and unable to build up a defense against COVID even with a vaccine.
Still have concerns? Don’t hesitate to talk with your healthcare provider. Know someone on the fence? Share this post.
This post was published on July 5, 2021 and updated in November 2021.