By Mike DuBose

Since COVID-19 surfaced in the US a year ago, confusing messages about the virus, masks, and vaccines have run rampant. Coronaviruses include many different viruses, some of which cause common colds, while the COVID-19 pandemic is very serious . . . and deadly. Even mild symptoms from the virus can last more than 9 months or the rest of your life. There have been 30 million confirmed coronavirus US cases and nearly 550,000 Americans have died. While some say the statistics are inflated, huge numbers just don’t lie.

Several COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the FDA—and 100+ vaccines are being tested worldwide. The CDC reports 20 percent of Americans have received one vaccine dose and 40 percent aged 65 and older are fully vaccinated. Harvard University reported in March that 71 percent American adults intend to get the COVID vaccine or have received it.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use “messenger RNA” technology, which has been utilized for 20 years to successfully treat cancer and other diseases. MRNA vaccines prime our immune systems to fight against the actual COVID-19 virus if we are exposed. Because the COVID-19 vaccines utilize mRNA rather than the virus itself, it’s impossible to contract coronavirus from the vaccine.

In blind clinical trials involving 117,000 different participants, Pfizer (43,448), Moderna (30,000), and Johnson & Johnson (43,783), Pfizer vaccines were 95 percent effective, Moderna (94 percent), and one-shot Johnson & Johnson (66 percent). J&J was 85 percent effective at reducing moderate-severe infections with no deaths and J&J is exploring if two shots might increase its effectiveness.

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines’ short-term side effects (soreness and redness around the vaccine site, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, body aches and pains, nausea, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes) only last a few days. Some individuals have no side effects. Scientists don’t know how long natural immunity lasts after being sick with COVID-19. Therefore, it is recommended that you still get vaccinated even if you’ve already had the virus, unless you received Covid antibodies’ treatments where you have to wait 90 days after recovery. Getting vaccinated will not protect you 100 percent (you still need to wear masks and socially distance) and there is a 5 percent chance you will be infected with mild symptoms. But 95 percent protection sure is a good bet.

SCDHEC has developed a COVID-19 hotline (866-365-8110). which is open every day 7AM to 7PM. Operators can view all vaccination sites statewide in making appointments or you can visit www.scdhec.gov.

The bottom line: There are a lot of unknowns, especially as new coronavirus variants appear, such as the South African version. Whether our existing vaccines can contain new variants or how long they will protect us is still questionable. We all miss eating inside restaurants, going to movies, and visiting our relatives and friends. However, for us to do these activities safely means that 80 percent or more of Americans must have been recently infected by the virus and/or taken vaccines to reach “herd immunity” when coronaviruses cannot find human hosts to infect.

All living Republican and Democrat US Presidents, including Trump, who was vaccinated in January, are advising everyone to get the shots. To end the pandemic and find our new normal, let’s heed the old saying: “It’s all for one, and one for all.”

Visit my non-profit website www.mikedubose.com for a detailed version of this article.

Mike DuBose has been an instructor for USC’s graduate school since 1985, when he began his family of companies, and is the author of The Art of Building a Great Business. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for a free copy of his book and additional published business, travel, and personal articles, as well as health articles written with Surb Guram, MD.