Most of my readers, I am hopeful, are either planning to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or have already gotten one or both (if necessary) shots. And if you are one of those people, I applaud you!
In fact, as of this week, I have joined the partially-vaccinated group, having received my first dosage of the Moderna vaccine. (California just opened up vaccinations to people with obesity…the only good thing to ever come from my chronic weight problem!)
I am pleased to report that, with the exception of a ridiculously sore left upper arm for 36 hours—which is now mercifully back to normal—I am feeling just fine. I didn’t die or go into anaphylaxis; I didn’t pass out or grow a second head.
In fact, now that I’ve gotten my first vaccination shot, there’s only unusual thing that I’m feeling:
AN AMAZING SENSE OF RELIEF!
Honestly, folks, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been living with this almost constant pounding of fear and dread these past 14 months. Like some crazy end-of-times sci-fi horror movie, there was literally a super-virus out there that could kill me! And sure, COVID-19 isn’t necessarily fatal to everyone, but when you’re 5′ 9″, 255 pounds, and have hypertension, this unpredictable virus was more likely than not to do a serious number on me…and possibly even end my life at 54. When you feel as though you’re taking a potentially fatal risk just by going to Costco…that’s stress!
Now, I realize that, with the Moderna vaccine, one dosage isn’t enough yet. Full immunization doesn’t come for me until my second shot in the middle of April. But for the next four weeks, the odds of my surviving an infection if I get one just shot up considerably!
It’s troubling to me that a number of people in our fan film community are not planning to get the vaccine (I won’t name names). In fact, I was texting one of my own INTERLUDE team members that I was at Rite Aid awaiting my shot, and this person sent me back the following IM…
You’re really going to take vaccine that hasn’t been through more than 4 months of clinical trials? You really are a gambler. Also, do note, that you’ll be 3 times more contagious for 2 weeks after you take the vaccine, so you’ll want to have st. john’s wort on hand for your family. There’s a high likelihood they’ll get it from you.
Nothing like getting a little emotional shot in the arm just before you get an actual shot in the arm! So I showed the message to Helen, my Rite Aid pharmacist. I’ve known this woman more than a decade, and I’ve literally trusted her with my life as well as the lives of my wife and son.
Helen explained something to me about the vaccine that I was unaware of…
THE VACCINE HAS NO ACTUAL VIRUS IN IT!
So no, I don’t need to worry about infecting my family with COVID-19 for the next two weeks because I’m not being exposed to the actual virus—I’m being exposed to an amazing-but-harmless “copy” of the virus.
In fact, as I learned more about what these new vaccines, I realized that they’re the kind of space-age medical breakthrough that Dr. McCoy would have developed to treat a mysterious alien disease…which is kinda what COVID-19 is. Even though it comes from Earth, it’s something our human bodies have never encountered before, and that’s one of the reasons that it’s killing us.
Y’see, Bones would never use one of those “ancient” Earth vaccines like a flu shot, where doctors would inject a small amount of the live virus into a patient to trigger their immune system to produce antibodies against it. “Poppycock!” McCoy would shout with obvious scorn if you told him about COVID-19. “You want me to inject my patient the very thing that’ll kill them??? We don’t do anything so barbaric in the 23rd century. I’ll just synthesize an inert COPY of the virus, thank you very much!”
Imagine if doctors could construct some 21st century equivalent of nanites that could be injected into a patient just long enough to “teach” our immune system to make antibodies for that specific virus. “Set phasers to COVID-19!” our white blood cells would say. Indeed, this is what happens with a flu shot and most other vaccinations that we get: tiny bits of deadly or debilitating diseases are injected—not enough to kill us but enough to “teach” our body to defend itself.
But Dr. McCoy (or Dr. Crusher or Dr. Bashir or the EMH…not Phlox, though, since he uses all of those weird space creatures) has a better way that avoids the deadly virus altogether. He simply replicates a synthetic version that can’t harm his patients at all! It goes in, updates the immune system, and then quickly breaks down and is flushed out of the body.
Dr. McCoy is likely using custom-designed messenger RNA (mRNA) to accomplish all these futuristic vaccination miracles. But just like smart phones, video calls, and computers that can understand our voices, 21st century medicine has caught up to Star Trek more than 200 years earlier than expected!
Our medical researchers here on Earth (in the present) have actually been studying and working with mRNA for decades already. Along with other viruses like the flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus, scientists have used mRNA vaccines to “teach” human immune systems to fight specific infections WITHOUT EVER GIVING SOMEONE THE ACTUAL VIRUS.
So when my friend said the new vaccine “hasn’t been through more than 4 months of clinical trials…” that’s not quite accurate. Using mRNA to make a non-lethal “copy” of a virus (I like to think of it as “3D-printing a virus”) is something we’ve been doing and testing on people for many years. Scientists just needed to figure out how to 3D-print a specific COVID-19 copy and keep it from breaking down in transit before being injected. That’s one of the reasons these vaccines were developed so relatively quickly: scientists had a HUGE head start!
Here’s how the CDC explains it all in a pretty picture…
The other crazy rumor going around is that mRNA will change someone’s DNA. One of my relatives actually believes that…and he went to medical school (back in the 1960’s). But I’m sorry to tell ya, but you’re confusing mRNA with gene therapy. I mean, I WISH I could inject something to change my DNA! I’d remove the insulin resistance that makes it hard for me to lose weight; I’d fix my eyesight, keep my hair from turning gray and falling out, and I might just throw in a superpower or two like invisibility or super-speed!
But alas, the mRNA protein can’t actually enter our cells and get to all of that sacred DNA in the nucleus. Feel free to read more about it here, but long story short: mRNA just stands at your kitchen window, holding up a recipe for you to follow to make dinner. It does NOT remodel your house.
All of this is to say that the new COVID vaccines aren’t some horrible bogeyman that will turn you into a Pod Person or take away your ability to dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever or whatever it is you’re worried will happen to you. On the other hand, getting COVID-19 is like playing Russian Roulette with your sense of taste and smell (if you’re lucky) and with your ability to breathe if you’re not.
Currently in the U.S., over half a million people have already DIED from catching COVID-19 (worldwide, it’s 2.6 million). And even now, with 1 out of 5 Americans having been vaccinated with at least one dosage, two World Trade Center attacks worth of victims are still dying EACH WEEK in those country. Think about that for a second.
Now tell me how many people have died or have even gotten sick from taking any of the various vaccines…out of hundreds of millions of doses? Certainly not two 9-11’s worth of deaths per week! In math terms, we write this as RISK OF COVID-19 > RISK OF VACCINE. Much, MUCH greater! Almost infinitely greater!!!
“Media cover-up,” you say? Well, that would have to be one heck of a conspiracy, folks! And worldwide…across both liberal AND conservative media sources? No doctor is blabbing the truth (despite that whole “do no harm” oath)? Not a single reporter or news outlet is”going rogue”? There’s no Lois Lane or Clark Kent anywhere on the (daily) planet who is choosing to report the story of the century—a guaranteed Pulitzer!—that there’s a huge international cover-up of thousands or even millions of dead or dying vaccine recipients that aren’t even being allowed to check into hospitals so there won’t be a paper trail or piles of bodies???
Anyway, this blog isn’t intended for those of you who don’t believe all this nonsense abut doctors and scientists secretly wanting to destroy humanity faster than COVID-19 by creating not one, not two, but three (or more) deadly “vaccines” to alter DNA and…what? Have shorter lines at theme parks? Finish what Thanos started in Infinity War and Endgame? Conspiracy theories typically don’t make a lot of sense.
The fact is that getting a vaccine provides a peace of mind that I haven’t felt since this whole world turned upside down last year. “COVID will no longer kill me…” is an amazing way to wake up in the morning and lower stress!
And for fan films in general, knowing that everyone on the set is vaccinated will eliminate most of the onerous precautions that have needed to be implemented this past year…but only if EVERYONE is vaccinated. It’s all or nothing, people. If even ONE unvaccinated cast or crew member, one volunteer or visitor shows up, that means that everyone will need to wear a mask—because that unvaccinated person could be carrying a variant that the vaccine doesn’t fully cover yet. Just because you’re “young and healthy” or you’ve already gotten COVID (people have caught the virus twice, folks), it doesn’t mean you can’t provide a convenient host for the virus to live in, replicate in, and possibly even mutate into something even worse in.
And if you inadvertently spawn a new COVID variant that the vaccines can’t protect for, then the entire world is back to masks and social distancing and Zoom Christmases…and it’ll all be your fault for not getting the vaccine.
So get the damn shot! It’s what Dr. McCoy/Crusher/Bashir/EMH/even Phlox would order you to do.