• Alex Gerlach

Conquering COVID: Happy Immunization Awareness Month

Over a year into the pandemic, people all over the world are still threatened by the COVID-19 virus. Luckily, modern medicine has given scientists and doctors the tools to create a vaccine to help protect us and slow the spread.


However, polarizing and opposing information in the media has made many people question the safety of vaccines and immunization.


National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) was started to highlight the importance of vaccines and immunization for people of all ages. NIAM’s goal is to bring awareness to the role vaccines play in preventing serious disease, controlling outbreaks, and decreasing chances of severe infection.


Here at Pedacitos Blog, we want to help promote the safety of our communities and give them the resources to make informed decisions. Today, Storyteller Alex is going to talk about the importance of immunization, its history, and her own experience getting the COVID-19 vaccine.


Click here to learn more about what to expect when traveling during COVID.

Polarizing and opposing information surrounds the Covid vaccine
Polarizing and opposing information surrounds the Covid vaccine

A Brief History of Vaccines

The history of vaccines is long and the first ones looked nothing like they do today. Researchers can date first immunization efforts back to ancient China when they practiced smallpox inoculations. This was done by grinding up smallpox scabs and blowing them into the nostrils or scratching them into the skin. The practice dates back to as early as 200 BCE.

Vaccines have come a long way from when they were first administered
Vaccines have come a long way from when they were first administered

Inoculation, also referred to as variolation, was popular up until the early 1800s. But in 1796, Edward Jenner made a breakthrough by successfully vaccinating a child against smallpox using matter from a cowpox sore. This started the transition from variolation to vaccination.


In the following years, more vaccines were produced for outbreaks of diseases like measles, typhoid, and rabies. Throughout the mid and late 1800s, countries around the world started mandating regular vaccinations for children and adults.


When we think about the history of vaccines, we often immediately think of the ground-breaking polio vaccine, which wasn’t invented until 1955.


But the history of vaccines exists long before that, which is important to understand when making decisions about immunization. When I was making my decision about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, I had a lot of questions about safety and effectiveness.


It took me a while to weed through the media, find the right information, and make my final decision. But eventually, I came to a decision and got the vaccine.

I debated and researched before I finally decided to get the vaccine
I debated and researched before I finally decided to get the vaccine

Common COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns

A lot of people I know chose not to get the vaccine for a number of reasons. Some claimed it hasn’t gone through enough testing, others were worried by claims of infertility.


Regardless, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of anti-vaccination supporters, political fear-mongering, and the public media echoing it all in their own words. So, I want to address some of the biggest concerns people have about the COVID-19 vaccines.


1. It isn’t safe because it hasn’t been around long enough

This is probably one of the biggest concerns for most people considering getting the vaccine. It was one of mine before getting my dose. Upon doing some research, I learned about the long history of vaccine creation and previous coronavirus vaccines that already exist.


Knowing that researchers have previous knowledge about the family of viruses known as coronaviruses and that so many years went into making safe vaccines, made me feel more comfortable making the decision to get vaccinated.


2. The COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility or miscarriage

Many of my girlfriends, all of us being in our early twenties, were worried about the possible effects of the vaccine on their reproductive health. Being so young, it can be scary making a decision that could have such consequences.


However, research shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women. Many doctors and healthcare professionals report that the COVID-19 vaccine has no reason for interacting with a women’s reproductive system.


3. MRNA vaccines change your DNA

There are a few different types of vaccines. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines are available as mRNA and disabled adenovirus. Instead of introducing the body to a dead part of the virus, mRNA vaccines help teach our immune systems the proper immune response to COVID-19 using the spike protein found on the surface of the virus. So, it doesn’t change your DNA, it teaches it how to protect you against foreign matter.