[COLUMN] Get vaccinated: Our shield and weapon against the growing threat of COVID-19 variants

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health administers the Covid-19 vaccine by appointment only at the Magic Mountain on January 20, 2020. (Photo by Los Angeles County)

AS the world continues its fight against the deadly COVID-19 and its variants, we Filipinos in the United States must be grateful that as of April 7, 1 out of 4 adults in the country is now been fully vaccinated. Along with the accelerated vaccination effort and the rollback of safety measures and restrictions, the number of confirmed infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States have also gone down. More lives are being saved!

The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also reveals that 40% of adults and 75% of seniors have received at least one dose.

On a more personal note, I am grateful that I am among those who have already received the first dose, and by April 27, I will already be fully vaccinated.

For those of you who have been asking how I am feeling after the first dose, I just had soreness in my upper arm where the vaccine was injected. Now on my third day after I got the shot, I am feeling back to normal.

However, I am aware that I may expect more side effects after the second shot, as experienced by some people. This, however, only means the body is producing antibodies to protect us from the virus. Acetaminophen like Tylenol will help alleviate flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, chills, tiredness and after two to three days, the body goes back to normal.

This is a reason for you to also be to be optimistic and empowered even as we are still fighting this war against the invisible enemy.

We can remember that after winning the election, President Joe Biden pledged that he would be working toward the goal of giving 150 million shots in his first 100 days. The goal post has been moved up in March, targeting up to 200 million in his first 100 days. Since then, the United States has regularly administered 2 million to 3 million shots a day.

And because we as a nation have been working together toward the same goal, we are now on course to produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses by summer. Because of this, we are moving ahead of the previously announced deadline to make all adults eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. President Biden announced the great news on Tuesday, April 6, that by April 19 states shall make all adults in the country eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

While we are grateful for this expedited access to vaccine by adults in the United States, we still worry about the younger ones, as they may still be infected by the virus, albeit a smaller probability, compared to the older individuals.

The FDA currently allows Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s use in people 16 and up, while the other two COVID-19 vaccines — made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are authorized for emergency use in people age 18 and older.

The good news is that Pfizer has already asked the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, April 9, for an amendment to its emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine to expand its use in people ages 12-15 in the United States.

“These requests are based on data from the pivotal Phase 3 trial in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age with or without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which demonstrated 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody response after vaccination with the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Pfizer said in a statement.

As CNN reported, the pharmaceutical company said in a statement it will seek similar rulings by other authorities around the world in the coming days.

While it is encouraging to see how more Americans are now heeding the call for vaccination, there are those who are paralyzed by the threat of the variants that are now causing the spike in the number of new cases of infection around the world. This fact should NOT stop us from getting the shots. In fact, this should serve as an impetus to compel us to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

The United States’ top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week, “It’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase,” noting Europe is experiencing a spike much like the one experts worry about for the U.S.

As CNN reported: “The U.S. added 79,878 new cases Thursday, the highest since March 24.

And the country is still averaging above 60,000 new cases a day — a level Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said puts the U.S. at risk for another surge. Experts are especially concerned about the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK and now the dominant strain in the U.S.”

If we are vaccinated, we are more protected against any virus variant from the deadly symptoms that have killed many people by COVID-19. The vaccine lowers the chances of having to be hospitalized, be brought to the ICU and be intubated. This, in addition to our conformity with public safety measures like wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, will be our shield and our weapon in this war against the pandemic.

I know we are all feeling the fatigue and desperation in this prolonged war against the coronavirus pandemic. But there should be no more ifs and buts, if we want to move closer and faster safely toward healing, normalcy and rebuilding our lives and our nation.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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