One of my greatest honors is to serve as a trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center. This has allowed me the opportunity to receive regular updates from some of the most respected medical and scientific professionals in the world. I wanted to take a moment to communicate my thoughts based on my understanding of the facts so far.
2020 has been a very difficult year for the entire world. This country has seen divisiveness that no one alive today has experienced in addition to a global pandemic — the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1918.
It’s been tough for everyone I know; my friends, family, and team members at Clayco have had tremendous stress, health crises, and life-changing events with unprecedented lifestyle adjustments. Work has changed in a way that I find to be unproductive and nerve-racking.
However, I’m optimistic about 2021 being a year that is viewed as a “corner turner.” Although I think the year will be choppy economically and it will take time to get back to normal (possibly the entire year), we have much to be optimistic about. In my view, the number one cause for optimism is the extremely miraculous Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have recently been approved by the FDA on an emergency basis and are now being distributed across the country.
I’m thankful that the scientific community across the globe utilized all the technological advancements at their fingertips to do something that’s never been done before: develop a vaccine in less than a year, complete clinical trials, get FDA approval, and start distributing those vaccines to the ones who need it most.
Unfortunately, unwarranted fear and a lack of confidence in the vaccine have emerged over the past few months. However, I have full confidence in the vaccine and hope that everyone will seriously consider the science behind it and help the country become a safe place to live and do business again.
When it comes to the science behind vaccines, most of them use a weakened germ of the virus that is injected into your body to cause a reaction in the immune system. These two new vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), however, use messenger RNA—which is manufactured from the sequence of the gene—and inject it into the body, essentially tricking the body into creating the desired reaction in the immune system, without ever using any of the actual virus. The impressive thing is that even the top scientists are surprised how effective the vaccines are; they believe they are between 92% and 95% effective for adults.
While there is no chance of getting the COVID virus from the vaccine, nearly all patients experience a negative reaction for a short period of time, lasting from 12 to 24 hours. The most common side effect is pain at the site of injection, but other possible side effects include headaches, achiness, and fatigue. This is all proof that the body is reacting — which is a good thing! The symptoms almost always go away within a day.
The vast majority of patients that receive the vaccine, and then a second dose three weeks later, will have protection from the virus. It’s important to note that even if you have had COVID, or you get the vaccine, you can still acquire COVID virus cells in your nasal passages and on your hands, which can carry the virus to others. While you will be protected, it will still be necessary for you to wear a mask and continue washing your hands carefully until there is herd immunity. If you’ve had COVID, it is possible to become reinfected after 90 days without the vaccine, but the likelihood is very rare at .01%.
As of right now, the government is set to acquire and distribute 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, with the option to add up to 500 million doses more of each. The CDC says there will be 300 million doses by March 31st.
The week before Christmas, the University of Chicago Medical Center began vaccinating their healthcare workers and those coming in close contact with patients. There are currently over 200 volunteers mobilized to give as many vaccines per day as possible. It’s important to understand that we will not reach herd immunity until approximately 70% of the population is vaccinated, which is necessary to end this public health crisis.
I’m writing this in hopes that all of you will strongly consider following the news carefully, sticking with science, and signing up for the vaccine as soon as you are able. I’m getting the vaccine when it’s my turn and I hope you will too. If you have questions or concerns, I will personally do my best to get you the answers.
Have a safe and happy 2021.
Update: March 12th, 2021, I got the vaccine! A great step towards a return to normalcy in life.
This article was also published in Construction Forum on March 30, 2021.