제 9 호 Are you Willing to Take the Risk?
Corona Vaccine in Korea
Kicker: WORLD (VACCINE)
Are You Willing to Take the Risk?
Corona Vaccine in Korea
Yeong-Jin Choi, Reporter
Many around the world are very exhausted as the Corona effect has been prolonged* more than a year. Koreans as well are still dealing with Coronavirus after the first case in January 2020. Though people searched and found their own ways to settle in the current situation, they still hope to go back to their normal life. Currently, there are many vaccines that have already been developed and are injected like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna. However, many Koreans worry about side effects.
*Prolong: To make something last a longer time.
The History and the Purpose of Vaccines
Before illustrating about the reactions of Koreans about the vaccine of Coronavirus, I would like to briefly discuss about the origin of vaccines. The father of vaccines is Edward Jenner because he is considered the founder of vaccinology in the West in 1796, after he inoculated* a 13-year-old boy with cowpox* and demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, the first smallpox* vaccine was developed. Another prominent biochemist, Louis Pasteur, founded a vaccine that worked against a disease called chicken cholera*. What is the purpose of the vaccine then? The principle of vaccination is to produce immunity. Immunity means the presence in a person’s body of cells and substances known as antibodies* that can produce a protective immune response. Shortly speaking, a vaccine helps people to establish an immune system against a certain disease.
*Inoculate: To give a weak form of a disease to a person or animal, usually by injection, as a protection against that disease.
*Cowpox: A disease in cattle.
*Smallpox: An extremely infectious disease that causes a fever, spots on the skin, and often death.
*Cholera: A serious infection of the bowels caused by drinking infected water or eating infected food, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and often death
*Antibody: A protein produced in the blood that fights diseases by attacking and killing harmful bacteria, viruses, etc.
The First Anti-Coronavirus Vaccine, AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca vaccine, also called as the Oxford vaccine, is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus which is known as an adenovirus* from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like Coronavirus although it cannot cause illness, and once injected, the vaccine teaches the body’s immune system how to fight the real virus. It is already proven that it is highly effective. No one given the vaccine in trials caught severe Coronavirus or needed hospital treatment. Many question whether the AstraZeneca vaccine is as good as the Pfizer one. Though large trials showed the Pfizer vaccine was 95 percent effective, and the AstraZeneca was 62 percent, directly comparing results is difficult because there are differences in the way the trials were carried out. A dialysis* patient, Brian Pinker, was the first person to get the new AstraZeneca vaccine injection by the chief nurse at Oxford University Hospital. Mr. Pinker said he was so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford.
*Adenovirus: One of a group of viruses that cause many different illnesses, especially respiratory diseases.
*Dialysis: A process of separating substances from liquid by putting them through a thin piece of skin-like material, especially to pure the blood of people whose kidneys are not working correctly.
How Can We be So Sure the Vaccine is Safe?
It is true that Coronavirus vaccines have been developed in a hurry. Since the virus is a whole new type that the world encountered, there are no precedents to refer to. Though many people around the world are getting the injections, how can we be so sure if the vaccine is safe for our body? What if the possible side effects cause bad complications* after more than a decade, and it has not been discovered yet? Are we willing to take the risk no matter what happens? Under the injections of normal vaccination, there may be redness, swelling or pain around the injection site. Fatigue*, fever, headache and aching limbs are also not uncommon after a vaccination. Serious side effects may happen rarely, such cases like allergic shocks, but these are isolated cases.
What possible side effects can happen after injecting major vaccines like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna? A few patients had a severe allergic reaction immediately after the injection of the Pfizer vaccine. Since these individuals either had no previous illnesses or were not known to be allergic to certain vaccine ingredients, the British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned in particular people who are allergic to certain vaccine ingredients or have suffered an anaphylactic shock* against getting the vaccination. Almost 10 percent of people who got the Moderna vaccine experienced fatigue, and 10 recipients* out of 108 allergic reactions recorded went into anaphylactic shock. Lastly, the AstraZeneca vaccine caused pain at the injection site, muscle pain, headache and fatigue, and vaccine reactions were less frequent and milder in older people.
*Complication: An extra medical problem that makes it more difficult to treat an existing illness.
*Fatigue: Extreme tiredness.
*Anaphylactic shock: An extreme and dangerous allergic reaction to something eaten or touched.
*Recipient: A person who receives something.
Reactions of Koreans about Vaccination
Though no one died while being administered the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government of Korea held off to people who are more than 65 years old. The government claimed that the data to prove whether the vaccine is safe among the elders who are more than 65 years old is too small. Almost 0.27 million Koreans who work at the hospital facilities are going to be injected on February 26th. However, since the elders cannot be vaccinated right away, many worry that establishing herd immunity among all the Koreans by the end of the year might not be possible.
More than 700 people out of 1,000 who are aged more than 18 years old have replied that they are ‘worried’ about the side effects after the injection according to ‘the Korean Gallup’. It was shown that 85 percent of the generation who are aged between 18 to 29 have answered that they are concerned about the possible side effects. This rising generation also replied that they are unsure about whether they will get the injection because of the possible side effects.
Many experts expect that the Coronavirus cannot be exterminated forever, and people would eventually coexist with it. Still, because the disease can be fatal, it is extremely important to achieve immunity among all the societies in the world. It is a fact that many Koreans are unsure about the vaccination yet. Although I understand that people might feel risky about getting the injection, I do recommend getting the vaccination as soon as possible to prevent Coronavirus.