As a Yakima-area health care professional, I’m concerned about low local vaccination rates and I’ve wondered what information I could provide to make people more comfortable receiving it. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.) Of the 175,000 adults living in Yakima County, fewer than 69,000, or less than 40 percent, have been fully vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 16 in Washington is now eligible to receive the shot. That doesn’t mean everyone wants it. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found about 13 percent of Americans say they will “definitely not” be vaccinated. When asked why not, their most common reason was that the vaccines are too new and not enough is known about their long-term effects. That’s understandable, given the urgency with which the vaccine was created. So I did some research into how it was developed. Scientists have been working on the technology to develop coronavirus vaccines long before we heard of COVID-19. According to USA Today, COVID-19’s spike protein was identified nearly 20 years ago as a potential vaccine target following the 2003 SARS outbreak. This laid the groundwork for the intensive vaccine development effort over the past year. Because there was significant research for scientists to build on in developing the COVID-19 vaccine — it was not “rushed,” as some may suggest. Recent scientific advances further accelerated the vaccines’ development. Nearly unprecedented international collaboration and significant investments by pharmaceutical companies were also directed to solve this medical crisis. Despite the urgency to bring vaccines to market, each vaccine was still put through rigorous testing protocols for effectiveness and safety. What about the notion that we don’t yet know about the vaccine’s long-term effects? Research has shown no indications that there will be long-term side effects with the vaccine. Granted, there have been some isolated, widely reported serious problems with some vaccine versions. Most patients are more likely to have only a mild reaction, if any, to the shot — some muscle soreness or a fever for a short period. In contrast, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest there are long-term effects from contracting the COVID-19 virus. I believe that vaccines — like regular dental exams, good oral health hygiene, and other health care protocols — will help keep all of us healthy. In fact, vaccinations are the best way to enhance public safety when coupled with individual measures like wearing masks in public. I realize this may not be the information some people want to hear. And others, for medical or philosophical reasons, may still choose not to be vaccinated. But if you are undecided, I would encourage you to seek out a medical professional — your physician, dentist, or another health care provider — and weigh the severe risks associated with contracting COVID-19 against the benefits of the vaccine. Scientific research says increasing our vaccination rates is the quickest way to resume our daily lives. That’s something to which we should all aspire.

As a Yakima-area health care professional, I’m concerned about low local vaccination rates and I’ve wondered what information I could provide to make people more comfortable receiving it. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.)

Of the 175,000 adults living in Yakima County, fewer than 69,000, or less than 40 percent, have been fully vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 16 in Washington is now eligible to receive the shot.

That doesn’t mean everyone wants it.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found about 13 percent of Americans say they will “definitely not” be vaccinated. When asked why not, their most common reason was that the vaccines are too new and not enough is known about their long-term effects.

That’s understandable, given the urgency with which the vaccine was created. So I did some research into how it was developed.

Scientists have been working on the technology to develop coronavirus vaccines long before we heard of COVID-19. According to USA Today, COVID-19’s spike protein was identified nearly 20 years ago as a potential vaccine target following the 2003 SARS outbreak. This laid the groundwork for the intensive vaccine development effort over the past year.

Because there was significant research for scientists to build on in developing the COVID-19 vaccine — it was not “rushed,” as some may suggest.

Recent scientific advances further accelerated the vaccines’ development. Nearly unprecedented international collaboration and significant investments by pharmaceutical companies were also directed to solve this medical crisis. Despite the urgency to bring vaccines to market, each vaccine was still put through rigorous testing protocols for effectiveness and safety.

What about the notion that we don’t yet know about the vaccine’s long-term effects?

Research has shown no indications that there will be long-term side effects with the vaccine. Granted, there have been some isolated, widely reported serious problems with some vaccine versions. Most patients are more likely to have only a mild reaction, if any, to the shot — some muscle soreness or a fever for a short period. In contrast, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest there are long-term effects from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

I believe that vaccines — like regular dental exams, good oral health hygiene, and other health care protocols — will help keep all of us healthy. In fact, vaccinations are the best way to enhance public safety when coupled with individual measures like wearing masks in public.

I realize this may not be the information some people want to hear. And others, for medical or philosophical reasons, may still choose not to be vaccinated. But if you are undecided, I would encourage you to seek out a medical professional — your physician, dentist, or another health care provider — and weigh the severe risks associated with contracting COVID-19 against the benefits of the vaccine.

Scientific research says increasing our vaccination rates is the quickest way to resume our daily lives. That’s something to which we should all aspire.