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I'm an ER Doctor and This is Why You Should Get Vaccinated

One top doctor explains why he got the COVID-19 vaccine — and why you should too.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Leah Groth
Doctor with stethoscope around his neck looking at the camera

I'm an Emergency Medicine doctor and am actively treating COVID-19 and other patients on the frontlines. We are in the middle of a surge in viral cases and many hospitals are near or at capacity. Today, I was vaccinated with the covid19 mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. I was vaccinated in order to protect myself, my family, my patients and the community. By doing this, I am helping to contribute to the immunity that will stop the pandemic. Everyone without a contraindication to vaccination should be vaccinated. It is your civic duty. We will need at least 50-70% of the population to be infected or immunized in order to halt the pandemic. One of the worst thing you could do right now is refuse to take the vaccine.

Currently, the United States has over 17 million COVID-19 infections, more than any other country in the world. Additionally, 315,000 deaths have been reported by the CDC—again, more than any other country in the world. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Getting the Vaccine Can Help Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives

We cannot allow the continued spread of this deadly virus with the hope that it will eventually run its course. Allowing the natural spread to eventually cause herd immunity is a flawed concept that is not supported by the overwhelming majority of public health experts, epidemiologists or doctors. COVID-19 is thought to have around a 2% overall mortality rate by some studies, which is 20 times the .1% mortality rate of seasonal influenza. Other sources indicate that the mortality may be lower at around .5 – 1% (still 5-10 times more deadly than seasonal flu). Many experts believe that herd immunity would require 50-70% of the population to become infected.

The United States has approximately 330 million people. 50% of that is 165 million people. In order to achieve herd immunity, at least 165 million people would need to be infected. Assuming the lowest mortality rate of just .5%, herd immunity would result in 825,000 deaths. If the mortality rate is actually 1%, it would translate to 1.65 million deaths and if mortality is 2%, it would amount to 3.3 million deaths. Also, the elderly and patients with comorbid conditions would be disproportionately affected and die in high percentages (potentially as high as 14%).

These estimates are pretty terrifying. However, there is a quick and effective option that will achieve the goals of herd immunity without the needless deaths: vaccination. Through mass vaccination, we can put an end to the terrible and destructive pandemic without the carnage of herd immunity through unchecked viral spread.

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The Vaccine Is Safe

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine currently has Emergency Use Authorization granted by the FDA and appears both effective and safe. It is a two-dose regimen, administered 3 weeks apart. The companies submitted two months of safety data to the FDA and have published a large prospective placebo-controlled study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study had around 43,000 participants. Patients received two doses of either placebo or the mRNA vaccine.

Nearly 22,000 participants received the vaccine and it was 95% effective in preventing covid-19 a week after the second dose. The safety of the vaccine was very impressive. There were no deaths or life-threatening events from the vaccine administration. The majority of side effects were after the second dose. Some side effects included pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, and chills. Typically, the symptoms were experienced within 3 days of vaccination and resolved quickly. 

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Here's Who Can Get the Vaccine

The vaccine is authorized for use in patients who are 16 years old and older. The vaccine does not contain Thimerosal or any egg-based component. With respect to pregnant or breast-feeding women, the studies did not include this group in the testing. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology supports vaccination of pregnant and breast-feeding women. Pregnancy in particular appears to be a risk for severe covid19 and ACOG supports vaccinating pregnant women. Please consider this and consult your OB if you would like to be vaccinated and are pregnant or breast-feeding. 

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Please, Join Me in Getting Vaccinated and Help End the Pandemic

I will receive a second dose of the vaccine in three weeks. I hope everyone reading this makes the right choice and becomes vaccinated. It is truly a momentous and important step towards ending the current pandemic and returning to normal. I hope that the unproven fears of vaccination don't scare or sway the public from mass immunization and prevention of the virus's continued spread. With the authorization of this vaccine, we have truly taken the first steps to ending this terrible worldwide public health crisis. So get yours when it's available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, FACEP
Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, FACEP is an Emergency Medicine Doctor who also practices critical care. Read more