Wisconsin State Journal
Wearing a helmet and getting a COVID-19 shot. I do both for the same reason: They reduce my risk of serious injury or death.
Neither is a perfect protection. Staying healthy requires a series of smart decisions on my part, but both a helmet and a COVID-19 vaccine certainly improve my odds of avoiding suffering or even death.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that a motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15% more likely to acquire a nonfatal head injury than a rider with a helmet on. With these facts in mind, I always wear a helmet when on my motorcycle.
The precautions I take on a motorcycle help me safely enjoy my ride and spend time with family and friends. These are the same types of reasons I got the COVID-19 shot months ago.
The medical experts at Mayo Clinic note that the COVID-19 vaccine helps prevent people from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill or dying due to it. The vaccine also helps keep people from spreading the virus to others. As more people receive the vaccine, it becomes harder for the disease to spread, and that helps with herd immunity.
Critics of the vaccine claim that the process was rushed and is not safe. Medical experts at Johns Hopkins Health, however, note that, “studies found that the two initial vaccines are both about 95% effective — and reported no serious or life-threatening side effects.” They highlight a number of reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly:
- The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic.
- The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.
- Some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made.
- Social media helped companies find and engage study volunteers, and many were willing to help with COVID-19 vaccine research.
- Because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.
- Companies began making vaccines early in the process — even before FDA authorization — so some supplies were ready when authorization occurred.
President Donald Trump officially announced Operation Warp Speed last spring. It was a successful public–private partnership to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. President Trump declared that a vaccine would be developed by the end of the year and that most citizens would have access to it by April 2021. I was happy to be one of those Americans. My wife, sons and mother all got their shots, too.
It is much easier going on motorcycle rides this year because so many more places are open for business. We don’t need any more shutdowns. The more people get vaccinated, the more likely we are to slow down this pandemic.
Having said that, I do not support mandatory vaccinations or vaccine passports. I oppose them for the same reason I do not support mandatory helmet laws. Instead, I encourage people to do what our family did — talk to your doctor. Then consider the benefits of getting a COVID-19 shot.
Getting vaccinated allowed me to enjoy the ride and spend more quality time with family and friends. It helps our neighbors stay in business and be well. I hope you will join me and get vaccinated too, Wisconsin.