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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

specific flu strains are

specific flu strains are going to be most prevalent, and sometimes they guess wrong. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are “mRNA” vaccines, which according to the CDC, “give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the spike protein. The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.” There is no live virus in the vaccine and you absolutely cannot be infected with COVID-19 by taking it. The mRNA does not incorporate into your own DNA, and although this is the first mRNA vaccine authorized for use in humans in the US, medical experts have been researching them for years and planned to use them for a pandemic just like this one. Operation Warp Speed and desperate times accelerated this research. The vaccines require two doses, spaced at 21 days (Pfizer-BioNTech) and 28 days (Moderna), and you can’t mix the vaccines. You get the shot in your upper arm, and side effects can include temporary soreness and redness at the injection site, localized lymph node swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever, so you may need to take some acetaminophen afterwards. The side effects can be worse after the second shot, but it is very important that the two-shot series be completed. There have been rare instances of severe allergic reactions, which can occur with any vaccine, and the clinic where you get it should be prepared for this. When enough people get the vaccine, (75-85% of population according to Dr. Anthony Fauci), we should reach herd immunity, but these numbers are likely a year away. Until we reach those numbers, you are still vulnerable if you haven’t been vaccinated. RISK MITIGATION Much of what we do in law enforcement is based on risk mitigation – that’s why we wear body armor, train in arrest control and driving techniques, and practice de-escalation strategies. What we do on an everyday basis in our interactions with the public, detainees or inmates puts us at significant risk for exposure to COVID-19, and though masks provide some limited protection, they do not provide the definitive protection that you will get from a vaccine. The CDC has recognized this, and that is why first responders are a high priority group for getting the vaccine, while the general public will be waiting several months to get theirs. I look at the COVID-19 vaccine as another risk mitigation tool, kind of like “internal body armor.” My risk of being shot is very low, yet if I am shot, I sure want to be wearing my body armor. Likewise, the risk of me dying or having complications from a COVID-19 infection is low, but if there is a way of eliminating that risk with a vaccine that is safe and effective, I am going to take the vaccine. If you want to learn more, speak with your primary care physician and check out the resources below. If you have questions about the COVID vaccine, email for possible inclusion in an upcoming FAQ. John M. Williams, Sr., MD, MPH, is a physician with a Master of Public Health degree, board-certified in both Occupational Medicine and Ophthalmology. He is also a retired Navy medical officer, combat veteran and former Marine Corps Medical Battalion Commander. For the past 10 years, he has been a reserve deputy sheriff in southern Colorado and has also served as an academy instructor. 28 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 29

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