Because of her extensive background in pharmacy, Harding magazine asked Dr. Julie Hixson-Wallace, the founding dean of the College of Pharmacy who now serves as vice president for accreditation and institutional effectiveness and associate provost,to provide her perspective on COVID-19 vaccines.
As Solomon tells us through inspiration in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” (NASB 1995)
The year 2021 marks 30 years since I graduated from Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy with my Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Thus, it comes as no surprise that while many things have changed in medicine, many things have stayed the same. In 1991 there were 9,643 measles cases reported in the United States, a 65.3% decrease from the 27,786 cases reported in 1990. The large decrease in measles cases was due to a renewed effort to provide routine vaccination against measles following seven large outbreaks in 1989-90 due to unvaccinated preschool-age children. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report declared, “… only a sustained effort to provide age-appropriate vaccination will prevent another resurgence of measles.”
We now are in the midst of a viral pandemic due to a member of a family of viruses that have caused endemic common colds and flu-like symptoms for decades. Twice before, in 2002-03 and 2012-13, coronavirus epidemics occurred. This led to research in the areas of both prevention and treatment of coronaviruses, but the interest has waxed and waned in conjunction with how serious each epidemic has been. Knowing that the current COVID vaccines were expedited by research performed over many years can help ease the minds of those who have raised concerns that the vaccines have been brought too fast to clinical use.
While being vaccinated for COVID-19 and the viruses that cause influenza can never achieve nearly complete disease eradication like that experienced for infections such as polio, smallpox and measles, I believe taking care of the bodily temple God gives each of us through preventative healthcare is prudent. His provision to humankind, the brains and natural resources to develop vaccines, gives us the responsibility of being good stewards of that creation. Like the old story of the man stranded on his roof during a flood who passed up the boat and helicopter that came to save him and then asked God when he arrived in heaven why He didn’t save him, I hope we will not turn up our noses to COVID-19 vaccines. They are our helicopter to safety and normalcy – don’t miss out!