Struck: We were told the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. It is.

What gives you the right to put us at risk? No really, tell me. 

On Jan. 25 President Joe Biden told Americans he believed the United States would be able to administer 150 million shots in 100 days, a bold plan he said would be possible in part, “with the grace of God.” 

Since the Biden Administration took over the vaccine distribution process on Jan. 20, the day of his inauguration, more than 50 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, most recently at a rate of more than 1.7 million vaccinations per day. 

Our current president, unlike the former, has never claimed the coronavirus is “going to disappear.” Instead, in his first days in office President Biden enacted emergency powers to compel companies and manufacturers to prioritize certain orders over others, through a process known as the Defense Production Act.

This is not new. In fact, former President Trump and the previous administration invoked the Defense Production Act 18 times in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But the Biden administration expanded the act to better meet the needs of our country, our population and our healthcare providers who so desperately need help in their fight against the coronavirus. 

The new administration’s enactment of the Defense Product Act seeks to accelerate the manufacturing, delivery and administration of more than a dozen categories of critical supplies. This includes acting to increase the availability of N95 masks, gloves and isolation gowns, rapid test kits, low dead-space needles and syringes, “and all the necessary equipment and material to accelerate the manufacture, delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.” 

What does this matter, though, seriously? If we the people can’t collectively agree that the Pfizer, Moderna or the newly FDA approved Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe, necessary and extraordinarily important in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic, do these efforts on part of the Biden administration drastically aid in our COVID response? I say yes, but we the people need to step up. 

On Feb. 10 I received my Covid-19 vaccine in Sioux Falls, and no, it doesn’t matter which vaccine I received. No, I didn’t “jump the line.” I received the vaccine in part because through my work, I was considered part of Sioux Falls’s public safety vaccination-eligible category. I wasn’t bold or brave in my decision to receive the vaccine, nor was I nervous about it. 

Sanford Health says that shots or vaccinations “are among the most effective options for protecting people of all ages from dangerous, even life-threatening diseases.” 

I can’t believe I’m explaining this, but some people are ignoring the facts. Vaccines enable the body’s immune system to learn how to fight novel diseases and produce antibodies. When we get vaccinated, our bodies build up a strong defense system that is most often able to resist infection from diseases. 

Some people will say the liberal, left wing media convinced me to get the vaccine. I say good for the media, even though it had nothing to do with my decision. 

The coronavirus vaccine was subject to randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials. The Pfizer and BioNTech trial included more than 43,000 volunteers of diverse backgrounds. Only eight people in the vaccinated group developed COVID-19, whereas 86 people in the placebo group contracted the virus. Moderna’s vaccine trial included more than 30,000 volunteers. In the trial, 185 participants given the placebo developed COVID-19 symptoms. Only 11 people given the vaccine contracted virus-like symptoms.

The coronavirus vaccines are remarkable. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have an efficacy rate of more than 94%. The World Health Organization’s efficacy standard for vaccines is 50%. The result of such high efficacy rates are a culmination of extremely thorough, meticulous, professional and life-saving work on part of epidemiologists, scientists, researchers, doctors and various lab and healthcare professionals across the world. 

We’ve come a long way since the outbreak reached our country in late January of last year. But we’ve also collectively failed when we refuse to be vaccinated.

We will have failed the immunocompromised, the elderly, our families, our young children and ourselves. We will have failed our nurses, our hospital and clinic staff, our teachers, our world-class scientists, researchers and medical and healthcare professionals. We will have failed the South Dakota COVID response team and their efforts to distribute the vaccine to every corner of our state.

We will have failed the poor, the weak and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who lost their lives as a result of our ignorant, delayed and inappropriate attempts to control the spread of the virus, all of which were inherently lackluster. But in refusing vaccinations, we will have failed as a nation.

Free-choice gives us the power to make choices for ourselves, our families and the cultures we seek to strengthen and uphold. Free-choice means nothing if we don’t use it to do the right thing. 

Trust in the process, trust in the World Health Organization and its efforts to eradicate diseases for over 70 years, trust in our scientists and healthcare professionals and trust in our COVID-19 vaccines. 

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