Comments and discussion
The most important reasons for people to be reluctant or hesitant to receive vaccination are: evaluation time too short, fear of adverse effects, no proven efficacy and fear for vaccination in general. Negative communities, reluctance to accept Covid 19 and fear for a specific vaccine are less important reasons to be hesitant.
In relation to these doubts, it should be underlined that the studies behind approval of the vaccines are carefully designed, very big and continously followed-up. Thus, they meet all the requirements of the regulatory authorities. The documented protective effect is very high, in comparison with any other vaccin or medication. In addition, the development process utilize new sophisticated molecular methods to select effective and safe antigen targets for the immune repsonse of the vaccinated individual. The reasons behind the uniquely short development of Covid 19 vaccins are scientific developments, close collaboration between countries, researchers and the scientific community and the industry. And, most important, the extremely short lead times for decisions from regulatory authorities related to all steps in the development process.
The vaccine will be provided for free in every country included in this FAQ and the vaccination program usually is ruled by a national (or regional/municipal) authority.
Vaccination will not be mandatory, but highly recommended in most countries. It will not be possible for people to choose their vaccine ( a specific brand).
The highest priority for vaccination is usually asigned to residents in nursing homes and their caregivers, followed by health care workers and other elderly (or vulnerable) people. Also mentioned: immunosuppressed patients, public service staff, including teachers and public transport drivers. In some countries it is being considered to provide those who are vaccinated more privileges/possibilities, such as access to theaters, festivals, sports etc. than those who are not. It is obvious that most countries lack a strategic and beforehand agreed plan to reassure that groups of professionals with high and unique competence related to vital societal functions are vaccinated with the highest priority. In health care such competencies are particularly related to intensive and emergency care.
As stated before, vaccination has just started or will start shortly, with the exception of the UK where vaccination already started December 7 2020.
The time to complete the entire vaccination program is largely unknown, but will probably be around 6 – (12) months. Also the period during which the vaccine will provide protection is uncertain; most answerers predict 4 – 12 months. It should be stressed however, that although this question of course is important from an individual perspective, also a duration of immunity limited to 4-6 months will probably prove to be enough to break the chain of virus transmission and end the pandemic. Thus, the responsibility of the indivudual is dual; towards themselves but also towards the return to a normal society and the risk of severe illness and death of others.
It is clear that European internists are strong proponents for vaccination without hesitations. The risks of vaccination seem limited and are certainly less drastic than those associated with being ill with Covid 19. We should therefore all accept the vaccine as soon as it is offered.
January 7, 2021
Writing group: Stefan Lindgren, Ramon Pujol, Daniel Sereni and Jan Willem Elte