The first coronavirus vaccine is still at least six months away, according to most health experts. If all goes well, we should have a working product on the market by early 2021. However, providers and healthcare companies are already laying the groundwork for the vaccination process. Having a working drug is only part of the process. The medical community also has to find a way to widely distribute the vaccine and convince millions of people that they are better off getting it than not.
We recently polled our Facebook group “Funny Nurses” to see how many people would take the vaccine when it becomes available. The results were surprising, to say the least.
Currently, just 27% of respondents said they would, while 73% said “no”. In the age of social media, there’s no way to validate the identities of these respondents, so not all of them may be nurses in real life, but the results are surprising, nonetheless.
Healthcare providers and frontline workers will likely be required to get vaccinated first in order to care for the public, but it seems some may be hesitant to do so.
Let’s find out why our group voted the way they did.
Confusion and Distrust
Some nurses said they were nervous about taking a vaccine that’s been rushed through the approval process. The White House has created a plan called “Operation Warp Speed” that’s designed to move the vaccine along as quickly as possible, but this could lead to waves of confusion and distrust across the country. Many people, including providers and patients, may be skeptical of such a drug if they get the sense that regulators skipped a few quality control steps along the way.
As Jessica Tshudy writes, “I’m not taking a vaccine after it’s been rushed through decreased FDA guidelines. Especially on a virus we’ve only been studying for less than a year. No thanks. There are also studies that show a vaccine may actually ‘enhance’ COVID-19.”
She shared a link from the National Institute of Health that discusses the possibility of an eventual vaccine making COVID-19 infections worse. The vaccine will presumably use antibodies to stop the virus from spreading throughout the body. However, these antibodies could lead to what’s known as an immune-enhanced version of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV infections.
That’s why vaccine developers and regulators need to test the vaccine extensively to make sure it works in all patients. The finished drug will likely affect individuals in different ways, but scientists need to get rid of potentially dangerous side effects before releasing it to the public.
Another person chimed in, “I’d rather wait for the beta testers (most people) to work out all the kinks first, since it’s not getting the kind of testing it should.”
The Food and Drug Administration is vital to this process. According to the federal government, “Throughout the process, FDA works closely with the company producing the vaccine to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. All safety concerns must be addressed before FDA licenses a vaccine.”
One user was so taken aback at the idea of getting vaccinated that they wrote, “Any nurse that takes a COVID vaccine is not a nurse I would ever want caring for me because that means she’s lost her mind.”
What About the Other 44%?
However, many users and nurses were quick to say that they will take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, especially those with small children.
Gary Baron lays it out in frank terms: “If people don’t want to take a vaccine then it’s just letting evolution/natural selection take its course.”
As Nicole Metts McLinden writes, “Vaccines are historically way safer than any new medication that comes on the market. Of course, I and my kids will take it.”
Vaccines are meant for widespread use in society, especially in the face of a global pandemic. That means nearly everyone on the planet may need to get vaccinated at some point, leaving little room for error. If the FDA signs off on a vaccine too soon, the results could be disastrous.
The same level of scrutiny doesn’t always apply to other types of drugs, especially if they’re meant for a much smaller section of the population.
Lynz Ann was so frustrated with the idea of her colleagues refusing to take the vaccine, she went on the attack with, “Some of these ‘nurse’ comments make me question your ethics and if I would ever want my family to be cared for by you. Incredibly sad.”
Will You Have a Choice?
If you work in medicine, the answer will likely be “no”. Many nurses and professionals on Facebook were quick to point out that employers will likely make the vaccine a requirement for employment, especially when working around terminally ill patients, elderly individuals, and the immunocompromised.
This prediction was echoed in a comment from Randee Morris: “I’m sure we will be forced to anyway being in the medical field, just like we are with the flu shot.”
Existing employees and those looking for work will likely have to show proof of vaccination. This is an easy way for companies to limit the spread of the virus. It also reduces the need for PPE.
The final drug won’t be perfect. It may come with side effects that could pose a threat to certain individuals. That’s why we will likely have more than one drug on the market at the same time. One may be more effective for some people than for others, depending on peoples’ current health conditions and histories of infection.
Clinical trials have already started in the U.S. and abroad. Companies are looking to attract volunteers from all different backgrounds to make these trials more representative of the country as a whole. That means testing it on a very broad range of people from various geographical areas, races, and ethnicities.
Stay tuned as we learn more about upcoming coronavirus vaccines.