This past year has been quite a journey for all of us. In early February of 2020 I was in a classroom at Northwestern’s Kellog School of business as part of their Physician CEO program. One of the first lectures was on crisis management and during that course the first thing presented was Bill Gate’s Ted Talk on Global Pandemics. I remember thinking to myself “why don’t they present us with something a bit more practical?” Little did I know that we were about to enter a once in a century pandemic. As a dermatologist, I see many patients. I treat their skin cancers, treat medical dermatology problems and also offer the gamut that cosmetic dermatology has to offer. As you can imagine, over the past year Covid-19 has been a major topic of conversation and most recently the vaccine has come to the forefront. Most patients I see want the vaccine as soon as they are eligible while others are hesitant. Some are hesitant which as a physician with a background in science seems strange to me. Hopefully, this article will help you decide to get vaccinated.
It is amazing that the effective Covid-19 vaccines have been developed so quickly. These vaccines are mRNA vaccines. mRNA is not DNA and does not become part of your genetic blueprint. mRNA is like a simple instruction on how to produce a protein. In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, certain cells are instructed to produce a small portion of the spike protein of the virus. This allows the body’s immune system to create protective antibodies against the Covid-19 spike protein. If one is exposed to the actual virus your body’s immune system is primed to fight off the virus without you getting sick.
Is the vaccine safe? The Covid-19 vaccines have been given to millions of people worldwide. Some people have mild transient side effects such as aches, headaches and fever. However, the data to date show that it is overwhelming safe and effective. I received both doses of the vaccine as have many of my colleagues and family members. The day after my second vaccine I felt slightly achy. With all the information currently available we know the vaccine prevents serious illness and death from Covid. I believe the vaccine to be our pathway to getting back to a normal life. The only way out of this pandemic is if enough people are protected from the virus preventing it from spreading.
Some unusual theories I have heard that make no sense to me is that Bill Gates or the U.S. government will somehow track you because you received the virus. The vaccine simply doesn’t do this. There is no microchip in the vaccine and as previously mentioned the vaccine doesn’t get into your DNA. It seems ironic that people who are concerned about the vaccine creating a way to be tracked are the same people who carry their cellphone everywhere they go.
Every healthcare decision we make is balancing the potential risk vs the potential benefit of the intervention. As far as the Covid-19 vaccine goes it was a simple decision for me. The benefits clearly outweigh the risks. I hope you come to the same conclusion for yourself and your family. It is the light at the end of the tunnel bringing us back to a normal life.
-Jerome Potozkin, MD