ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES

COVID-19 shots continue long tradition of vaccines protecting public health

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Mar 28, 2022, 8:48 AM | Updated: Oct 3, 2022, 7:33 am

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You want to feel safe. You want your family to be safe. Are vaccines safe?

The simple and important answer is: Oh my yes!

What you want to know too is if vaccines actually work, right?

The World Health Organization has an answer: “With the exception of clean, safe drinking water, no human endeavor rivals immunization in combating infectious diseases and reducing mortality rates.”

In fact, the technology and science used to create the COVID-19 vaccine is not new and vaccines have been successful at significantly decreasing disease in the population for centuries. 

You might think about vaccines when a child has to start school or when flu season comes around each year. In this age of COVID-19, the subject is constantly in the forefront of all of our minds. Some of you want to know are vaccines safe and effective.

One thing that is important to know is that very smart, well-trained men and women have worked in this field for a long time. 

The modern age of vaccines traces its first roots all the way back to the late 1700s. In fact, in 1777 George Washington even insisted his soldiers be inoculated against smallpox.

Louis Pasteur developed a rabies vaccine in 1885. As doctors and scientists began to learn more and build upon the work of others,vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930s.

As the 20th century advanced, so did research and development. A big step forward came in the second half of the 1900s, when vaccines against the flu, polio, and other diseases were developed and perfected. 

Now, by the age of 24 months more than 90 percent of children receive vaccines against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and chickenpox according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overwhelmingly, the evidence of many studies supports vaccine safety and efficacy, and the vast majority of scientists and clinicians who work in the field agree.

Many who have seen the success of vaccines with their own eyes also sing their praises.

“Immunization has been a great public health success story,” Nobel Prize winner and former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela famously said.The lives of millions of children have been saved, millions have the chance of a longer, healthier life.”

Vaccines are saving lives for adults as well. CDC data estimates that during the 2019-2020 flu season in the U.S., the vaccine prevented 7.5 million people from getting sick with the flu, saved 3.7 million visits to the doctor for the flu, prevented 105,000 people from being hospitalized with the flu, and prevented 6,300 flu-related deaths.

Innovative techniques now drive vaccine research, with recombinant DNA technology and new delivery techniques leading scientists in new directions. As for COVID-19 vaccines, the approach to create them actually had years of background. The similar vaccine strategy came about from the SARS outbreak. SARS did not spread quickly, so the vaccine was never widely released, but the groundwork was laid to produce the COVID-19 vaccine. No shortcuts were taken. All the same steps were taken to produce the COVID-19 vaccine as others and ensuring safety was a top priority.

Early trials produced very few issues and no reports of serious side effects. Some effects reported in trials, such as soreness at the injection site or feeling a little “under the weather,” are not uncommon with some other vaccines – like the flu vaccine – and not everyone even experienced those.

The COVID-19 vaccine is another in a long, well-researched  and well developed history of lifesaving vaccines.  Get vaccinated if you aren’t, get boosted if you haven’t. Find a location at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, is advising Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency preparedness. After serving as Surgeon General from 2002-2006, Dr. Carmona became vice chairman of Canyon Ranch, a Tucson wellness resort where he now serves as Chief of Health Innovations. A member of several corporate boards, Dr. Carmona also serves as the Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health while also holding faculty appointments as a Professor of Surgery and Pharmacy.

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COVID-19 shots continue long tradition of vaccines protecting public health