The United States has been grappling with COVID-19 since March, and after 7 months, there seems to be no end in sight. Except for the tantalizing option of a vaccine. By the end of the year, healthcare experts are expecting to have at least one vaccine ready to go, and for a country that struggled to get people to wear masks, America might have a little trouble getting its citizens vaccinated. But if COVID is ever going to end then people absolutely need to get the vaccine.

This is obviously easier said than done. COVID has been so politicized and both the right and the left have given reasons to not take a vaccine once one is developed.

In the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 7, Senator Kamala Harris voiced her opinions on a vaccine:

“If Dr. Fauci, the doctors, tells us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not going to take it,” said Harris.

Senator Harris has a point; President Trump has a long record of downplaying the severity of the virus and spreading false information about it. Who’s to say that will stop when it comes to a vaccine? The only safe way to go when it comes to a vaccine is to listen to medical professionals. If a vaccine is released in December, there is no doubt that skepticism and outright refusal to take it will be rampant among the American people, and yet these same people complain about things not being back to normal. There has to be some kind of trust in doctors and scientists or this COVID nightmare will never end. If they say a vaccine is safe and effective then people should take it. In the meantime, people should be doing all they can to slow the spread of the virus.

Of course, there are valid concerns over a vaccine and those should all be addressed. Side effects and the short time for development in which the vaccine is being made, as compared with vaccines developed in the past, are both worrying, but beyond that, all hope is being put towards a miracle occurring and a cure suddenly being found. While the country waits for a vaccine, COVID cases are beginning to go up again, and yet there have been no more shutdowns or any real plan from those running the country. This one-track mindset is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous.

The future of the country should not come to rest on one vaccine, especially when the outcomes and effects of that vaccine are widely unknown. It’s important to remember other countries have been able to return to relatively normal life without the aid of a vaccine. By shutting down the entire country, monitoring anyone who came in or out, and immediately quarantining those who did show symptoms, countries like New Zealand, Taiwan, and Singapore have been able to reopen the country and allow things to resume.

Life can return to some semblance of what it was before without a vaccine if people continue to wear a mask and social distance. However, with schools, restaurants, and even movie theaters beginning to reopen, people are beginning to act as though the worst is in the past. In reality, case numbers are rising and as people pretend everything is back to normal it worsens the impact of the virus. Pretending everything is okay won’t make everything okay so people should be taking this virus seriously while waiting for a vaccine. Beyond this, the side effects of a vaccine worry many people.

Several people who volunteered for testing trials of a COVID-19 vaccine reported side effects that included “high fever, body aches, bad headaches, and exhaustion,” and those were just some of the effects according to CNBC. However, after usually one day, the symptoms disappeared, and patients felt back to normal.

Considering that these side effects typically last only one day, it’s a much preferable option to suffering through weeks of having the actual virus. Coupled with the severe and damaging effects that COVID can have on one’s body, choosing to take the vaccine is the wiser way to go. In addition, scientists are working to rid the vaccines of any negative side effects which may mean that people won’t deal with them at all.

Being concerned about the vaccine and whether or not it’s safe is reasonable, but it in no way outweighs the dangerous effects of the coronavirus. When it comes time to decide to take the vaccine or not, the American people should think of their communities and the countless families who have been torn apart by the virus. Keeping that same thought in mind, it’s also vital that everyone does their part to lessen the deadly impact of the virus now, such as wearing a mask, doing their best to stay home, and socially distance themselves from others while a vaccine is still in the works. There is not going to be a magical cure around the next corner, and for the safety and health of fellow Americans, everyone needs to do what they can.

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