Finally, 2020 is winding down. For many, these have not been the best of times. Though the COVID-19 pandemic is still racing through our country, sickening millions and killing tens of thousands of Americans, there is excellent news on the horizon. Science is coming to the rescue. Thanks to the dedication and innovation of scientists the world over, multiple effective vaccines designed to protect us from coronavirus are being developed, tested, vetted, and rolled out within the coming weeks and months. Large-scale clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines suggest that they are about 95% protective from symptomatic disease and safe, and there are many more in development around the world. Over the next several weeks and months, each company’s data will be reviewed by an independent panel of scientific experts who will verify each study’s findings. If the data is deemed reliable and the vaccine determined to be effective and safe, it will receive emergency use authorization by the FDA. Another panel of experts will determine who will receive the vaccine initially and how the nationwide rollout will prioritize others in the future until all who want the vaccine will have received it. At the very least, public health experts are hoping to immunize 70% of the US population by the spring of 2021 to suppress viral spread and squelch the ever-worsening pandemic.
I recently listened to an episode of Fresh Air on NPR featuring Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine and tropical medicine expert from Baylor College of Medicine who is part of a team working to develop a low-cost coronavirus vaccine that could be distributed globally. He talked about vaccine development and the anti-vax movement, which I knew very little about. I was shocked to learn how widely held these anti-science, misinformed views are around the world. The anti-vax movement started in the 1990’s, falsely claiming a link between childhood immunizations and autism. I learned that the people who spread these debunked theories are now spreading skepticism and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccines. I encourage you to do some reading on the subject, it is chilling. However, I want to make one thing perfectly clear, if and when the independent scientific review board approves an emergency use authorization for any one of the upcoming coronavirus vaccines, I will get vaccinated with any of the approved vaccines as soon as the system allows me to do so, as will my family.
Until such time as we can all get vaccinated and shed the life-altering burden that has been thrust onto the world by this COVID-19 pandemic nightmare, wear your masks, wash your hands, maintain social distance, avoid indoor places where people are not wearing masks and stay vigilant, the end of this pandemic is within sight!
Now, for just a few moments, let me reflect on a year like no other in my practice and in my lifetime. I am so thankful for the superb team of professionals with whom I work every day to take care of our community. Their creativity, determination and skill make the challenges of practicing during these historic times less intimidating and their enthusiasm for patient care is inspiring. To my patients, I want to say thanks for trusting us to care for you safely. From your comments and the lovely words that you wrote to us personally or online, I know that we helped lift your spirits, gave you a bit more confidence and overall made a positive impact in your life. With that, I thought that it would be fitting to let some of these beautiful comments speak for themselves.
All of us at Marietta Facial Plastic Surgery, Laser & Aesthetics Center wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!
Seth A. Yellin, MD, FACS
Founder and Director, Marietta Facial Plastics Laser & Aesthetics Center