Get the vaccine because it’s the responsible thing to do

According+to+the+CDC%2C+fully+vaccinated+people+can+refrain+from+wearing+masks%2C+except+in+mandated+places.

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According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can refrain from wearing masks, except in mandated places.

Alli Schroeder , Multimedia Editor

For the first time in a long time, I will be visiting my grandparents. Like many Americans, my family received the coronavirus vaccine, and under CDC guidelines we are finally able to see each other.

I miss my grandparents, and Zooming on their tiny Kindle just isn’t the same as seeing them in person. My family has followed CDC guidelines since the start. We wear our masks and social distance, but we still didn’t risk seeing them as they are in the older, more susceptible group, and my grandfather is a cancer survivor. It is such a relief to finally feel safe again, even if I still have to wear a mask for a while, which really is only a mild inconvenience anyway.

At first, I was concerned about getting a vaccine. Why should I be the lab rat in testing some completely new technology, when we don’t know the long-term effects? It turns out that this is not new research. This vaccine has been in development for many years.

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines are fairly recent in use. However, many years of research have been done to ensure their safety and efficacy. 

Dr. Katalin Kariko of the University of Pennsylvania has focussed on the development of mRNA technology for the entirety of her career.  Her ideas for mRNA vaccines seemed unconventional when she began her career, but she is now recognized as a hero of the COVID-19 vaccine development, and mRNA vaccines are approved for use for many different diseases.

Coronavirus strains aren’t new either. The strains SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV caused the previous coronavirus epidempics SARS and MERS, respectively. These strains have been around for years. SARS first surfaced around 2002, leaving ample time for research and data to be collected on these viruses. 

No vaccines were approved for these epidemics because they resulted in fewer deaths and spread less rapidly, so there was seemingly no value in developing a vaccine. Still, vaccine development occurred and contributed to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The strain that has caused this coronavirus epidemic is SARS-Cov-2. 

Not only is the COVID-19 vaccine safe, but it is such a special opportunity and privilege to be receiving it. The 27 wealthiest countries have around 34 percent of the vaccines, while only making up about 10 percent of the global population.

Getting the vaccine is the responsible thing to do because vaccines are stopping the spread and deaths. But it is also responsible because it will ensure that the vaccines do not go to waste when many other countries won’t be able to receive the vaccine for a few more months, if not years. 

Herd immunity is also important, as some people won’t be able to receive the vaccine due to age, or certain rare health conditions. So a person who is able should get vaccinated so that everyone can be safe. 

As an added benefit, as of Thursday, the CDC has said that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear their masks in most situations.

So I feel relieved. I can see other fully vaccinated members of my family, I can travel and I can feel safe going to school again. The pandemic is far from over, but those who are vaccinated can feel some sense of relief, and can start living life like normal again.