This is how vaccines are supposed to work.
This is how vaccines are supposed to work.

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of getting my third COVID Vaccination, a half dose of Moderna as a booster shot to go with my two previous doses of Pfizer. While waiting my turn, I was scrolling through my Instagram discovery page and low and behold, I came across heaps of vaccine misinformation.

With the new Omicron variant, the return of restrictions across Europe, and the wide government support for booster shots, it seems like we’re in store for another round of the vaccine debate.

Wasn’t it just supposed to be two shots?

The news told us it was just supposed to be two shots, and it was done with. What’s all this talk about a booster shot now? Why were we lied to?

This sort of change is completely normal, especially when you consider the history of vaccines – and is exactly what scientists expected to have happened^. A perfect example is the polio vaccine.

The original type of vaccine used as a single dose of live attenuated poliovirus that people drank. That’s right, in 1950, you had a little sip of some full-on poliovirus. And young people around the world were excited to drink that^!

Since the 1950s there’s been a continual change in how poliovirus vaccinations work in the United States. Not only has the type of vaccine changed, the recommended number of doses has changed too!

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that children get FOUR doses of the poliovirus vaccine^! and for good reason:

Two doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) are 90% effective or more against polio; three doses are 99% to 100% effective.^

Scientists didn’t figure this out right away. It took decades of study and improvements to vaccines and how/when they were dosed out.

Surprisingly, we don’t even know how long people who received IPV vaccines will remain immune to polio^, DESPITE the polio vaccine having been around for 70 years, just not enough research has been done.

Even with all the uncertainty and change with polio vaccines, they have had a remarkable impact on polio cases very quickly.

Cases of Polio Paralysis in the United States
Cases of Polio Paralysis in the United States

But what if it’s every year

Virtually every major vaccine only lasts a certain amount of time: their effectiveness wanes due to virus mutations (like seasonal flu) OR your body begins to produce few antibodies^.

Very few vaccines are effective for your entire life and the only reason we don’t have to keep getting them over and over again is thanks to over 90% of the population ALSO getting them.

But it’s only 90% effective

I wish it was 100% too. Sadly nothing is perfect.

In real-world conditions, there is a huge range of vaccine effectiveness:

Vaccines that are above 90% effective are the gold standard in vaccines, not the baseline.

It’s going to mutate my DNA

Well, all the evidence says that it doesn’t and it’s not physically capable of doing so^. Besides, your DNA is changing all of the time! It’s completely normal and expected for your DNA to change over time^. If you’ve ever been outside in the sun too long you’ve probably changed and damaged your DNA^.

I don’t want to be infertile

Good news for men, in a small study, the vaccine had the opposite effect. Men had MORE sperm after vaccination^!

Change in Semen Analysis Parameters Before and After COVID-19 Vaccination
Change in Semen Analysis Parameters Before and After COVID-19 Vaccination

It’s safe for women too! Since the vaccines became available there have been lots of babies born, and there’s been no evidence to suggest that there are any negative side effects at all in any of the studies that have been conducted^.

On the other hand, getting COVID-19, even a minor case, reduces sperm quality and can cause miscarriages^.

Well I’m young and healthy

Though you may be less likely to be hospitalized, you still can have long-term health impacts on your blood vessels and heart^ (and your sense of taste and smell). The COVID-19 vaccines, on the other hand, so far have no evidence of any long-term effects^. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now two of the most utilized vaccines in history with very few reports of even minimal side effects – especially with the young and healthy.

I do my own research

Great! I do too! I spent countless hours doing research – and learning about polio in particular – while writing this short blog post. There have been some great large studies on both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters.

Dig into some deep academic papers and their source data! Interpreting them is a steep learning curve but has been well worth it in my life.

The end

I honestly don’t expect this to change anyone’s opinions on the safety and importance of vaccinations, but god damn, did it feel therapeutic to write.

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