Lubbock scientists optimistic about COVID vaccine

By Avery Dunlap

Plainsman Online

Throughout the pandemic, there have been advancements in the vaccine, and many news sources have been sharing that it may be ready to distribute within the next couple of months.

The Coronavirus has been an illness that has affected many aspects of all of our lives. Since March, when the virus caused schools to shut down, there has been a lot of fear and lack of hope for what the future may have for us. Scientists have been working diligently to form a vaccine to help slow down the attack that the virus has had on our society.

Dr. Jimmy Stickles, an emergency medicine physician in Lubbock, explains that the, “vaccine will rely on mRNA to direct the body’s own cells to manufacture antigen to elicit an immune response.” He goes on to state that this advancement in vaccines will be, “the first mRNA vaccines to be used on humans.”

Dr. Jimmy Stickles

There have been many clinical trials with COVID-positive participants being given the vaccine, and had, “COVID-like symptoms for one to two days after the dose with no effects after that,” and, “others felt no symptoms,” according to Hannah Daniels, a Texas Tech University medical student. The trials that she had spoken about were conducted during summer time, and gives an optimistic view on the vaccine since there had been many positive outcomes from the trial. They have continued to enhance the vaccine since.

It is no secret that this virus has affected our communities, and how we do things daily. There are very few aspects of life that Coronavirus hasn’t changed. But for most people, it has been life changing. The virus is, “rapidly increasing day by day, with Lubbock County having one of the highest COVID rates in the nation,” said Daniels.

There have been many weeks when a high percentage of local hospitals are being overrun by COVID-positive patients. Some places to get tested had been shut down due to the overwhelming number of people needing to be tested.

When asked how he believes the vaccine will affect our communities, Dr. Stickles says that he is optimistic.

Hannah Daniels

“It will give communities hope that our world can return to normal,” said Dr. Stickles.

But with hope, there can also be a healthy amount of fear of the virus and the things it can do to the country, Dr. Stickles explains, “fears it may cause some to relax their precautions.” When the vaccine is distributed, the virus could still spread again.

There have been some people questioning whether the vaccine is safe for our bodies.

Yet, “whether vaccines are effective is not a question of belief or non-belief,” according to Dr. Stickles. They have helped shape what the body’s health looks like today.

“Vaccines are the single most important advancement in medicine in the history of man,” Dr. Stickles states, and that is widely supported by many physicians.

If you currently attend, or have attended a public school, you know that some vaccines have been required. These vaccines have been Measles and Meningitis, and it has been questioned whether the Coronavirus vaccine should be required too. It has been expressed that even though there have been some requirements from schools, people still have free will to choose to receive them.

“People should have the right to choose regarding all matters of health and medical care,” said Dr. Stickles.

Everybody’s bodies and ideologies are different, and everyone should speak to their primary care physician about what the best choice for you is. But, like many topics in America, there will be divided viewpoints of how we treat the vaccine.

Olivia Villanueva, a Chemistry instructor at Texas Tech University, explained that she believes that all students should be required to receive the vaccine, along with the current requirements. She shares the frustration of, “receiving weekly emails of two to three students who have been affected or infected by COVID.” She is hopeful that the virus would strengthen immune systems, and that fewer students would be exposed or sick.

Olivia Villanueva

It has changed the way she has prepared for class, as a chemistry instructor, and she has found it important to enforce the regulations that Texas Tech had implemented in their classes. Many of the requirements have also been implemented at South Plains College, such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and disinfecting the areas where students sit in a classroom.

If you have had a hard time with the pandemic, and have been directly affected, vaccines may be a way for you to have some hope. There is still a lot unknown, and it may be a long time before the virus is completely handled.

Until then, Dr. Stickles asks that students “obtain information from reliable sources.” Many times, overwhelming and false information has been presented about not just the virus, but also the vaccine. The best place to have the most accurate and updated information is, “from your primary care physician,” according to Dr. Stickles. For those who do not have access to a primary care physician, then he encourages students to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci, an American physician and Immunologist, and the things he has shared with the country.

Dr. Fauci is, “quite literally the best, finest source of experience in this realm,” Dr. Stickles explains. Therefore, others should pay attention to him and his experience with infectious diseases and public health.

Until the vaccine comes out and the virus is taken care of, there are a couple regulations that Dr. Stickles, Daniels, and Villanueva all agree on. They encourage others to continue social distancing, and to properly wear masks. Masks should be covering the mouth and nose. This will not only help keep you healthy, but will also help the community get to a healthy place.

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