There was a time in our collective national medical history when doctors developed vaccines, the government recommended it to prevent devastating disease and the American public flocked to get the vaccine in amazing numbers. A viral epidemic was nearly eradicated, and ever since that vaccine has been given to young children to prevent this debilitating and sometimes deadly disease.

But that was polio and the 1950s. This is COVID and 2021.

Not sure about the COVID vaccine? Ask your doctor

Paul Pedersen

COVID-19 has killed more people than polio ever did, has affected the world economy more than polio ever did and has infected more people than polio ever did. The vaccine was indeed developed by physicians, albeit with the assistance of geneticists and biochemists.

The physicians of the United States have responded with 95% receptivity. It is as safe as any vaccine and generally well tolerated.

But the American public has responded with less than spectacular receptivity. A vaccine is now widely available, and it is the way to end the pandemic while returning to a level of normalcy and economic productivity. Yet the public demurs.

What happened?

It’s not the science and the logic that have suffered. It is a lack of trust and fear that has overtaken our populace. Is that unfounded?

Not necessarily. There are the opioid issues from the ‘80s that affected our trust in Pharma. Vietnam, Afghanistan and other wars have eroded trust in government and the internet has become a “source of truth.”

The COVID vaccines have been developed using a technique that is not new. I repeat – using mRNA (messenger RNA) to develop pharmaceuticals is not new. But it is new to vaccine development. It is faster to develop, more agile and very specific for this bug. The 95% efficacy is little short of amazing.

So, who do we believe, what do we believe and what are the actions we take based on those beliefs?

I really think the one item that is particularly convincing is the action of the vast majority of physicians in the United States and the world. They have responded with an overwhelmingly positive response to getting the vaccine whether they were pregnant, trying to get pregnant or just trying to stay alive. To me, that is an incredibly strong statement about the safety and efficacy of this vaccine and the way to return to a level of normalcy.

So, ask your doctor or almost any doctor you know. The vast majority will say, “Get the vaccine! Are you NUTS? What are you waiting for?”

This bug is not going away, and if you aren’t vaccinated you will eventually get it. Please, please, please get vaccinated for yourself, for your family and for your community.

Dr. Paul Pedersen serves as vice president and chief medical officer at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington. He is president of the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program and a past president of the Illinois State Medical Society.