Since December 2019 when the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Wuhan, China, SARS-CoV-2 virus, has spread around the world. To date, in the United States, there have been a reported over 25 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths (with numbers still rising). To put this in context, the case fatality rate (number of people who have a disease and then die due to the disease) is 3.1% for COVID-19 while it is only 0.1% for the flu.
Granted, many more people survive than die from COVID-19 infection, but there are other health conditions that can develop as part of COVID-19 infection or subsequent to COVID-19 infection including heart, lung, brain and nerve problems, kidney injury, and whole body inflammation syndromes which occur in both adults and children. There are also longer term problems that we are just beginning to unravel including persistent symptoms after COVID-19.
While there are still many unknowns about COVID-19, we have learned a lot in the year since the pandemic began and have developed new treatments and now vaccines to fight back against COVID-19.
In December 2020, the FDA authorized two vaccines for emergency use. The first doses manufactured by Pfizer-BIONTECH rolled out to hospitals on Dec. 14, 2020. Since then, Inova has given more than 100,000 shots to healthcare workers throughout the Washington, DC region, and will now assist in vaccinating the local community based on the CDC guidelines.
However, despite this success, some people still may have concerns about being vaccinated. We understand that in order to stop the rapid spread of this infection, people need to be protected against it. The best way to be protected against an infection is immunization. It is estimated that about 80% of the human population will need to be protected in order to stop the pandemic.
Many people still have questions about the vaccine including questions about the development of the vaccine, its safety and efficacy, side effects and its impact on those with certain health conditions. Below, we answer many of these questions and provide links to resources for more information. If you still have questions, it is best to discuss these with your primary care doctor.