To vaccine, or not vaccine.


Are you taking the vaccine?

Full disclosure, I am not a fan of anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers. My house is a science house. We get our vaccines and have stayed our asses inside, unless absolutely necessary (and ALWAYS with a mask), since March. I realize that we are fortunate to be able to do so, without any change to our way of life or incomes.

As a family, we’ve lost 9 people to the Rona and we refuse to take any chances. I say all of this, to give you a peak into where my views lie, before I get into the meat of this post.

I’ve mentioned that I sometimes get requests for topics, just general inquiries about something, or people asking if I’m going to talk about this or that thing. Lately, almost every message and question has been about the vaccine. And more recently, I’ve been asked why a lot of Black people are apprehensive about the new vaccine (from non-Black folks)AND whether I think Black people should take it (from Black folks).

Initially, I hemmed and hawed, and didn’t want to write about this. Why? Because I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. I am NOT an anti-vaxxer, by any stretch of the imagination and will be getting the vaccine, when available. I’m also Black. My s/o, family and friends are Black. My world is Black.

So, I not only know of, and hear of, the aversions to the vaccine, I understand the reasoning behind it. It’s an interesting place to be.

I’m going to attempt, attempt being the keyword, to answer the “why are Black people cautious?” and the “is it safe?/should we take it?” questions.

Let’s get started.

Black people have every reason to mistrust and be wary of the medical field, in general. We’re mistreated, overlooked, suffer complications and death, due to medial bias. That’s just a fact. We also have a long history of medical abuse, experimentation and torture. This is also a fact. It should be of no surprise or shock, that the Black community has raised its eyes, at this vaccine. Sure, this vaccine isn’t just for Black people, so the validity of the concerns, gets a little murky, but I’m trying to paint this picture for you, k?

If you are a non-Black person and fail to see how the concerns of the Black community, stem from our, well, survival mode, and distrust of the medical field, I don’t know what to tell you. 

The word of today, and every IWW day, is nuance. There are complexities in our wariness, real harm that has been done. This is a lane, that should not have a white car hop the median, to blast “Black people are stupid for not wanting the vaccine,” from the speakers, as I have seen.

Don’t do that. And certainly, don’t do that around me. It won’t end well for ya.

Having said that though, there are misconceptions about vaccines in general, and specifically this vaccine, that I do want to clear up for mainly Black people, but also anyone else who may have concerns. I won’t clown those Black people, who aren’t feeling this vaccine, like so many others are doing. Because as much as I feel differently, I GET IT. I’m gon educate instead.

I read both FDA reports, yes all 107 pages, and quite a few medical reviews/opinions. You have questions? I have answers.

Doesn’t it usually take 7-10 years to produce a vaccine? Yes, but because of lots of red tape and funding issues. Since Covid was such a worldwide threat, there was an urgency like never before. Do not confuse urgency with rushed though – the urgency was in circumventing the red tape, not in rushing vaccine protocols and phases. 

Here is how a clinical trials doctor, explains it:

“So next time somebody expresses concern at the astonishing speed the vaccine trials have happened at, point out to them that ten years isn’t a good thing, it’s a bad thing. It’s not ten years because that is safe, it’s ten hard years of battling indifference, commercial imperatives, luck and red tape. It represents barriers in the process that we have now proved are “easy” to overcome. You just need unlimited cash, some clever and highly motivated people, all the world’s trial infrastructure, an almost unlimited pool of altruistic, wonderful trial volunteers and some sensible regulators.”

Okay, but still, some of that time is spent creating the vaccine and conducting trials. How could they create a brand new vaccine so fast? The research behind the Covid vaccine, is actually not new. Scientists piggybacked off of research obtained from other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS. 

The Covid vaccine does utilize a new technology, messenger RNA(mRNA). With traditional vaccines, scientists had to grow, inactivate and purify viruses, before making vaccines. Some of these vaccines, like the flu shot, contain remnants of dead viruses. Others like the varicella vaccine (chickenpox), have live weakened viruses.

With mRNA, there is no live virus in the vaccine. Instead of growing the virus out in large vats, the covid vaccine utilizes mRNA, to send out commands on how to build certain proteins. These proteins are set-up in a way to specifically attack the Covid virus. 

How many people were in the trials? In Pfizer’s, 36,000. Moderna had 30,350.

Where were the trials conducted? Trials happened in the US, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Germany.

What were the demographics of those who participated in the trials? “Overall, the phase 2/3 evaluable efficacy population included 49.4% females, 81.9% White,

9.8% African American, 4.4% Asian participants, and <3% from other racial groups; 26.2% of participants were Hispanic/Latino; 21.4% of participants were >65 years of age. The median age was 51 years. The most frequently reported comorbidities were obesity (35.1%), diabetes (with and without chronic complications, 8.4%) and pulmonary disease (7.8%). Geographically, 76.7% of participants were from the US, 15.3% from Argentina, 6.1% from Brazil, and 2% from South Africa.”

Have there been any deaths? Yes. None of them have been attributed to the vaccine. There have been 6 total deaths, 4 from the placebo group and 2 from the vaccine group. The two from the vaccine group were over 55, and died from common factors, for that age group.

Have there been any side effects? Yes. 

Pfizer: “common solicited adverse reactions were injection site reactions (84.1%), fatigue (62.9%),headache (55.1%), muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.6%), fever (14.2%);severe adverse reactions occurred in 0.0% to 4.6% of participants, were more frequent after Dose 2 than after Dose 1, and were generally less frequent in participants ≥55 years of age (≤2.8%) as compared to younger participants (≤4.6%).”

Moderna: “The most common solicited adverse reactions associated with mRNA-1273 were injection site pain (91.6%), fatigue (68.5%), headache (63.0%), muscle pain (59.6%), joint pain (44.8%), chills (43.4%); severe adverse reactions occurred in 0.2% to 9.7% of participants, were more frequent after dose 2 than after dose 1, and were generally less frequent in participants ≥65 years of age as compared to younger participants. Among unsolicited adverse events of clinical interest, which could be possibly related to vaccine.”

How effective is the vaccine? We have to remember that there are two main vaccines, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna. Both have an astonishing 95% efficacy. It’s important to note that regulators were only shooting for 50%. It is true that these numbers can change as more data comes in, but this is starting out very well.

Is it just one shot? No, both vaccines require two doses. 

What’s the difference between the two vaccines? There are differences in how the vaccines are stored, how they’re taken and who can take them. 

“Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for use in people over the age of 16, the Moderna vaccine will be approved for use in people over the age of 18… Moderna’s vaccine will also be administered 28 days apart to Pfizers 21 days.”

Who should not get the vaccine? Anyone with severe allergies.

 BUT, if these things apply to you, proceed with caution and speak to your doctor:

  • “have a fever
  • have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • have received another COVID-19 vaccine.”

Will this be something we have to get every year? We just don’t know that yet. It’s only been a few months, since the trials were completed, so this will be determined once more data is made available.

If I get the vaccine, can I still spread the virus? Likely, yes. But more data is needed on whether the vaccine prevents disease, infection or both. For instance, “If the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines only prevent disease, a person could be infected following an exposure and potentially spread the virus.”

Does the vaccine contain a microchip? No.

Can I take the vaccine, if I already had covid? Yes, it’s recommended after you’ve safely recovered.

Can the mRNA change a person’s DNA? No. The mRNA will be fully out of your body in 48 hours. It also only enters the cytoplasm of a cell, not the nucleus, where DNA is located.

If you’re confused about why Dr.Fauci (or the media), specifically addressed the Black community, and our concerns, I hope this answers why.

If you’re wondering whether or not to get the vaccine, I hope this eases your mind.

We have one of the most vulnerable communities, with more deaths, than practically anyone, and I just want us to be able to make the most informed decisions possible.

Be safe, y’all.

janay

When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.

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