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Sarah Israeli

Grade: 9

Chaviva High School

Instructor: Ariella Landy

To Vaccinate, or not to Vaccinate--That is the Question

Critical Essay

To Vaccinate, or not to Vaccinate--That is the Question

The argument to vaccinate

In 2019, the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), also known as COVID-19, rapidly spread from Wuhan, China to the rest of the world. Although the vaccine is now available to those 12 years of age and older, many people are hesitant to receive this lifesaving inoculation. While vaccines have been around since the Smallpox outbreak of 1798, the COVID- 19 vaccine has only been recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). False information regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine has made it confusing and frightening to receive the vaccine. In this paper, I present five arguments that explain how the COVID-19 vaccine is not harmful to those with a healthy immune system.

Firstly, a prevalent myth regarding COVID- 19 is that the research and trials were rushed due to the worldwide crisis. This is far from the truth. In order to speed up the manufacturing process of the COVID-19 vaccine, the United States government used information from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus of 2003. The genetic make-up of the SARS virus is 80% identical to COVID-19. Using information from the SARS virus, scientists were able to start clinical trials earlier than usual. Additionally, to speed up the manufacturing process, the government started building factories to produce the vaccine while the clinical trials were in progress. This is different than the usual process where the factories are built after the vaccine has been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, it normally takes time for researchers to get funding. With financial help from the government, time was saved. Another reason why the production process was faster than one might expect is a high level of disease while testing the vaccine. The epidemic provided many participants who were willing to risk their health. Therefore, scientists had a larger sample size for multiple trials occurring simultaneously. Lastly, to save time, the government started producing the vaccine and loading the trucks while the trials were ongoing. The government was willing to "place bets" on the vaccine so that immediately after the vaccine was approved, the pre-loaded trucks were able to start delivering the vaccine worldwide. To sum it all up, "Speed does not mean rushed. It meant, in this case, leveraging a whole lot of smart people, money, and decades of previous work to get the vaccine in 9 months."

Secondly, there is a myth that one can contract COVID-19 from the vaccine. This is inaccurate. The vaccine cannot possibly give one COVID-19 as it does not contain the whole virus in it. For the body to fight the virus, it needs to just recognize the outer shell, which is made of spike proteins. For this reason, the scientists cut the genetic coding for the spike protein out of the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) RNA of COVID-19. Scientists do not extract anything else from the genetic code because this would be harmful. The vaccine, which is made from messenger RNA (mRNA) and a protective shell, has this genetic code inserted in it. mRNA is an instruction manual that gives out genetic instructions on how to build proteins. This spliced mRNA tells your cells to make spike proteins. Your body then recognizes the spike proteins and produces antibodies. These antibodies work to attack the actual Coronavirus infection. Scientists placed it inside a protective bubble as a vector to enter the body. The protective bubble is very fragile and can degrade easily. Ultimately, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot give one coronavirus because the vaccine doesn't contain any of the code for the viral part of the RNA.

Thirdly, one may think that the vaccine can alter your Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Again, this is far from the truth. For anything to enter the nucleus, where your DNA is located, it needs to pass through a double membrane. This double membrane that surrounds the nucleus is called the nuclear envelope. The nuclear envelope has gated pores that allow for the passage of small items. Larger ones, however, need to be tagged for passage. mRNA is built in the nucleus as the DNA is unzipped for transcription and then tagged with an export molecule so that it can exit the nucleus. The export molecule is immediately cut off so the molecule cannot re-enter the nucleus. The mRNA strand is then translated into a protein in the cytoplasm, which is the area of the cell where proteins are made. The vaccine, which is a full strand of mRNA, does not enter the nucleus because mRNA is automatically translated into a protein in the cytoplasm. Also, the molecule importin, which allows for entry into the cellular envelope, does not attach to mRNA. Therefore, it is not possible for the mRNA vaccine to interfere with the DNA because it cannot enter the nucleus. This is why the Coronavirus vaccine can't change a person's DNA.

Additionally, young, healthy people are generally less likely to be negatively affected by COVID-19. Therefore, many of them did not receive the vaccine. When they became infected with COVID-19, they added to the spread of the virus. Each time the virus jumps from person to person, it increases the likelihood of mutation. As a result of this, there are now different variants of COVID-19. The COVID-19, which most young people were once protected from, has now made millions sick and even turned more deadly. The Delta variant is an example of a variant of covid. It is 200% more transmittable than the original Coronavirus. The Delta variant is also killing young and healthy people. There is now an even greater need to receive the vaccine than ever before.

Although health care officials are pushing for everyone to receive the vaccine, a good amount of people cannot get vaccinated. For example, approximately one in fifty Americans have anaphylaxis, which is a severe reaction to an allergy. Those who have severe cases of anaphylaxis cannot receive the vaccine. By vaccinating yourself, you are protecting those who are not able to receive the vaccine by helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

To sum it up, there have been many significant scientific studies performed on the COVID-19 vaccine that proves it is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and those around you. Although the vaccine was created in a very short period of time, the process was not rushed and is therefore safe. In addition, the vaccine was created using a small portion of mRNA that only codes for the spike protein. Therefore, it cannot give you the virus. The vaccine does not enter the nucleus; therefore, it does not alter your DNA. With new variants making their way around, it is crucial to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help stop the virus from mutating. By vaccinating yourself, you are not just protecting yourself, but you're protecting those with medical conditions that cannot get vaccinated. As Melissa Fleming from UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications says, "COVID-19 is not just this century's largest public health emergency, but also a communication crisis." All of these myths are just communication issues, and I hope that this essay can help clear up a lot of these misconceptions.