Understanding COVID-19 vaccines in 25 minutes

Learn how vaccines are made and how they work. Review the concept of herd immunity and why it’s so important. Recognize the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy and why it matters and may enable the spread of disease.

Recently I started listening to podcasts from AXIOS, an online news source, and have especially enjoyed their coverage of science in general and specifically the COVID-19 pandemic.

They produced 5 short videos explaining the coronavirus vaccine that I found informative and want to share with you . Each is less than 5 minutes so in about 25 minutes you will learn much about the vaccine and hopefully be more confident in your decision to get vaccinated yourself, as I and my husband have been.

Here’s the intro from AXIOS and a link to the page where you can access all 5 videos. Below I have given you an outline so you know a little of what is in each episode, but I do recommend you listen to all of them in order. They are even appropriate for kids.

(The cover photo is a scanning electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH)

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Vaccines: A short course from Axios

Vaccines have been used for centuries to fight disease but hesitancy and disinformation about them are spreading, jeopardizing the global fight against measles, COVID-19 and other diseases.

Axios’ science and health journalists will help you understand vaccines — how they work, how they’re tested and distributed, and where vaccine technology is headed.

illustration showing the coronavirus which causes COVID-19
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. In this view, the protein particles E, S, and M, also located on the outer surface of the particle, have all been labeled as well. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS, public domain

1. Vaccine basics

Learn how vaccines are made and how they work. Understand the immune system-T cells and antibodies.

Review the concept of herd immunity and why it’s so important.

These patients’ samples were to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) serologic test. CDC/ James Gathany, PUBLIC DOMAIN

2. Study and testing of vaccines

Find out why the research and development of vaccines costs $100 of millions. See the 3 phases of the process and why this one progressed faster than ever before.

President Joe Biden visited NIH on February 11, 2020, where he met with leading researchers at the Vaccine Research Center to learn more about the groundbreaking fundamental research that enabled the development of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.Credit: NIH/Chiachi Chang; PUBLIC DOMAIN

3. Distribution of vaccines

Understand why vaccine distribution differs from other drugs-including the manufacturing, selling, buying, and transporting.

In this 2020 photograph, captured inside a clinical setting, a health care provider places a bandage on the injection site of a patient, who just received an influenza vaccine. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6-months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season. CDC/ Robert Denty, public domain

4. Misinformation about vaccines

Recognize the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy and why it matters and may enable the spread of disease.

5. Next generation vaccines

Explore how scientists are using the power of genetics to create new and better vaccines. Appreciate why vaccines can change our approach to disease prevention.

DNA Double Helix

Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. Please link to www.genome.gov when possible. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Exploring the HEART of ending the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr Aletha

Dr. Aletha inspecting her arm after a COVID-19 shot
Three days after my first vaccination the soreness in my arm was almost gone, and I had no redness or swelling. After the second shot, minimal soreness. No other side effects to report. I feel fortunate.

President Biden Confronts SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)-an update

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their science and healthcare teams have developed a plan with 7 goals to end this pandemic and prevent others. You can read the entire 200 page report at the link. Here is a list of the 7 goals with a few of the points of each goal.

update March 12, 2021

On March 11, President Biden addressed the country about the current progress of ending the pandemic. He said

I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It’s on the back of my schedule. As of now, the total deaths in America: 527,726.

President Biden

He announced we will have enough vaccine for every adult to be vaccinated by the end of May.

Concerning current vaccination progress, we have vaccinated

  • 65% of people over age 65
  • 70% of people over age 70

Concerning schools he said

with the passage of the American Rescue Plan — I thank the House and Senate for passing it — and my…. plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff….. we can accelerate the massive, nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal… of opening the majority of K-8 schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the number one priority of my new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

President Biden

Thanks to usnews.com for publishing the complete transcript of his speech at this link.

President Joe Biden on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Continue here for the original post from February 1,2021

During the presidential campaign last year, I wrote a blog post outlining the healthcare plans of both major party candidates. Here is the recently updated post about now President Joe Biden.

The United States government and healthcare

Here is a brief review of the healthcare agencies of the United States government.

The sitting President heads the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.

The Department of Health and Human Services ,through the President’s Cabinet secretary, manages the response to COVID-19. Other Cabinet members and their Departments are involved as well.

The agencies most involved in the COVID-19 response include

  • Health and Human Services-HHS
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency-FEMA
  • Centers for Disease Control-CDC
  • National Institutes of Health-NIH
  • Federal Drug Administration-FDA
  • Small Business Administration-SBA
  • Veterans Administration-VA
  • Department of Defense -DOD
  • Treasury Department
  • State Department

The President leads the Executive Branch of the government, including all of the departments and agencies headed by the Cabinet members, including the Department of Health and Human Services.

2020-The Biden-Harris Plan

During the campaign, Mr. Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris posted a 7 point plan to confront and control COVID-19. Here is a link to that plan.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris-7 point plan to beat COVID-19 and get our country back on track
an electron microscope image of the coronavirus
the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, responsible for causing COVID-19- photo used with permission, CDC.GOV

December 31, 2019-China reports the coronavirus to WHO-the World Health Organization.

2021-National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their science and healthcare teams have developed a plan with 7 goals to end this pandemic and prevent others. You can read the entire 200 page report at the link. Here is a list of the 7 goals with a few of the points of each goal.

1. Restore trust with the American people.
  • establishes a federal COVID-19 response team to coordinate efforts
  • regular public briefings led by science experts
  • track and make data available to the public by the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO), federal, state and local public health partners, and clinicians in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. CDC is closely monitoring the situation and working 24/7 to provide updates credit James Gathany, public domain
2.Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  • increase the production of vaccines
  • give states clearer projections on vaccine availability
  • partner with states to create more vaccine centers
  • launch a national campaign to educate and encourage Americans on vaccine
3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments,health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  • asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days (note-this adds to any state or local recommendations or mandates on mask use)
  • require masks on public transportation
  • the CDC develop guidelines to help schools and businesses to reopen
  • create programs to develop new treatments for COVID-19
cloth facial coverings to prevent transmission of COVID-19
Mask use required on airplanes, trains, and other public transportation
4.Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defence Production Act.
  • increase emergency funding to the states for pandemic costs, including for PPE and use of National Guard
  • invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of PPE, and testing and vaccination supplies
5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  • develop a national strategy to reopen most schools within 100 days
  • federal agencies to issue updated guidance on protection for workers
  • asks Congress to provide financial aid to schools, universities, and daycares (cost in the billions)
a girl with a large backpack, walking to a school bus
6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  • establishes an equity task force to address disparities based on race, ethnicity, and geography
  • create a U.S. Public Health Workforce to help with testing and vaccinations in their communities
Healthy People 2030, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved [date graphic was accessed], from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health
7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.
  • rejoin the World Health Organization
  • increase humanitarian aid and support efforts to fight COVID-19 around the world
  • asks for Congressional support to establish a national center to prepare for future biological threats
2 bandaids crossed on a world globe
photo from the Lightstock collection (affiliate link)

Exploring the HEART of health

By following this blog, you’ll know when I post the additional pieces reviewing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other topics that explore the HEART of health.

Dr Aletha

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