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by Ilene Risk, MPA 

For most people, the COVID 19 pandemic is the only mass-scale viral event they have ever experienced in their lifetime, but epidemics and pandemics have been occurring since 3000 B.C. collectively wiping out billions. The Black Death killed over half of Europe’s population and polio crippled or killed thousands of children. While scientists and doctors have provided precautionary recommendations to slow the spread, vaccines are the only tools that have ever significantly controlled or ended these diseases in a significant way. Here are seven diseases that were put in their place thanks to vaccine breakthroughs. 


Polio became an epidemic in the early 1900’s, primarily affecting children and causing permanent deformities, paralysis, and death. Since it was transmitted primarily through water contaminated with infected feces or from person-to-person contact, outbreaks were higher during the warmer months. Thus, people avoided swimming and boiled water for the most basic of needs. The polio vaccine was first used in 1955 and the last polio case was reported in the U.S. in 1979 – one of the diseases eradicated in the U.S. due to vaccination. 


If you are over the age of 40 you will remember your parents always warning you about stepping on a rusty nail. As tetanus was contracted from metal scratches or punctures and could lead to muscle stiffness, lockjaw, or death, even pricking your finger on a thumbtack triggered worry. The good news is that for decades it’s been commonplace for infants to begin receiving the DTaP vaccine regimen starting at around 2 months old and finishing between 4-6 years to protect them for life against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) – alleviating the fret about an accidental scrape on an old door hinge. 


We are all too familiar with our annual flu shot to protect ourselves against 4 deadly flu strains, including H1N1, also known as Swine Flu. What’s not commonly known is that the 1918 influenza pandemic infected more than 500 million people and killed 675,000 of them in the U.S., and 50 million globally. Because of the flu vaccine, influenza deaths in the U.S. now range between 12,000 – 61,000 annually – still concerning but 90% less than in 1918. 

Hepatitis B. 

This preventable disease can live within you for the rest of your life and cause major liver damage and cancer. A 3-dose regimen of the hepatitis B vaccine started shortly after birth can protect you, and especially mothers from unknowingly passing it on to their children, which has led to many fewer cases in adulthood. 

Mumps, Measles, and Rubella. 

Mumps, measles, and rubella are all highly contagious but also equally preventable. The MMR vaccine protects people from all three. In the 1980’s there was a resurgence of mumps in youth because routine vaccinations were not mandated or recommended. However, once the two-dose recommendation was implemented, cases went from 5,700 in 1989 to fewer than 300 cases in 2004, demonstrating that vaccines are effective in preventing disease.  

Vaccines vs Disease-Acquired Immunity. 

Vaccines are the best way to stop a pandemic and limit the suffering and death caused by the disease. The Bubonic Plague ravaged the world for several years and killed an estimated 25 million people, or up to 60% of the population in Europe along from 1347 to 1352. This is an example of how long it can take for a pandemic to end on its own without vaccines.  

None of us want to endure five more years like 2020. Fortunately, we have the huge advantage of living in a time when science has been able to quickly produce a safe and effective vaccine against COVID and other deadly diseases. Because of our long history of research, development, and testing of vaccines, we don’t have to ‘wait it out’ for five more years and endure millions more unnecessary tragedies.  

This is our shot. Let’s take it. 

This site provides helpful facts from Utah’s top doctors and scientists, and information to help you schedule your vaccine appointment.

by Audrey Stevenson, PhD, MPH, MSN, FNP-BC

Recent surveys show that some top reasons people have hesitancy about receiving the vaccine is because A: They believe the trials were rushed and B: They would rather wait until others receive it before they make a decision. “You go before I go.” We get it. So, first let’s talk about the 118,000+ trial participants who did just that.

Let’s start with Pfizer.

For its vaccine, 44,000+ volunteers participated. Half received the vaccine, and the other half were given a placebo and all were told to go about their lives. During the trials, 162 of the estimated 22,000 placebo recipients contracted the coronavirus, while only 8 of the other 22,000 vaccine recipients tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 162 infected, 9 became severely ill with symptoms, while only 1 of the 8 vaccine recipients did. 1 in 22,000 vs 8 in 22,000. This led to the results that the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 95% effective at reducing disease and life-threatening symptoms. Think about those odds knowing there are 7.6 billion people on this planet, and you’re one of them.

Details: Requires 2 shots with 21 days in between receiving them, followed by a 14-day period after the second shot to reach full immunity.

Next up: Moderna.

For its trials, 30,000 participants were also submitted to the 1:1 ratio testing. Of the placebo group, 196 contracted COVID-19 with 30 cases being severe. Only 11 contracted the virus in the vaccine group with 0 showing severe symptoms. Both of these trials included participants ranging in ages from 18-71+ and from diverse communities including Hispanic, LatinX, Black or African American, Asian American, Multiracial, and Caucasian. Again, these numbers indicated a high 94.1% efficacy rate in preventing disease and hospital-grade symptoms or death.

Details: Requires 2 shots with 28 days in between receiving them, followed by a 14-day period after the second shot to reach full immunity.

The latest from Johnson & Johnson.

With J&J’s trials, it too conducted ratio testing for 43,700+ participants of various age groups and ethnicities. What’s different is, 41% of the participants had pre-existing conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and other immune compromises. This is important because COVID-19 symptoms can be worse for people who have these at-risk conditions. Another difference with Johnson & Johnson is that unlike Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have to be kept at extremely low temperatures and require 2 inoculations for effectiveness, J&J only requires 1 dose and can be stored safely at more regulated refrigeration for up to 3 months. As for the results, the vaccine provided 66% effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe symptoms, 28 days after the vaccination, but demonstrated 85% protection against hospitalization and death after day 28.

Details: 1 vaccination with full efficacy after 28 days.

As for the trials being “rushed”…

Typical vaccine developments and trials in a non-pandemic world require 3 main things: Resources, money, and approvals. Normally vaccines can take years to develop because they often run low on the first and second or can get tied up in long lines waiting for approvals from Food and Drug Administrations and similar government agencies who have other vaccines and drugs in the queue being reviewed for approval. When the pandemic hit, the world put everything else on hold, scientists came together to work on this sole solution, and governments, pharmaceutical companies, private donors, and citizens came together to make sure funding was not an issue. So, with these vaccines being prioritized and all-hands-on deck with unlimited money and resources, they were able to be developed faster, but no steps were skipped. They were merely streamlined.

As of February 12th, 2021: 46,390,270 people have taken the vaccine in the United States.

This site provides helpful facts from Utah’s top doctors and scientists, and information to help you schedule your vaccine appointment.

by Audrey Stevenson, PhD, MPH, MSN, FNP-BC

The good news is the vaccine is here, we have a plan, and most importantly it won’t cost you a thing. But, the questions do remain on what you need to do to get yours. The short answer: Register for an appointment, show up to your appointment, get the vaccine, wait, get the final shot, wait, embrace your new immunity. If you want a little more information than that, here are 5 quick and easy answers to guide you through the entire process.


Eventually everyone.

Based on CDC recommendations and local government in partnership with the Salt Lake County Health Department, we have developed a rollout plan and a timeline that helps streamline the vaccination process. It prioritizes first responders, healthcare personnel, long-term care residents and staff, teachers, and high-risk individuals. The good news is, we have already accomplished this phase 1 and we are now onto the general public based on age and pre-existing conditions.

Our Timeline

  • December: First shipments of vaccine arrive, Healthcare personnel
  • January: Long-term care facility staff & residents, First responders, Utahns 70+
  • February: Utahns 70+, K-12 Personnel
  • March: Utahns 50+, Utahns 16+ with qualifying conditions
  • April: Utahns 50+
  • May: Utahns 40+
  • June: Utahns 30+
  • July: All Utahns


By registering at

Our easy-to-use site allows you to register to get the vaccine using basic contact information. When you are qualified based on age or pre-existing condition, you will be sent detailed information either through email, phone call, or text confirming your registration and assigned an appointment date, time, and location. All you have to do is grab your ID and show up.


When you qualify.

Based on vaccine availability, you can get it when you qualify for the group we are currently serving, you have registered online, and your appointment has been made and confirmed.


Multiple locations.

The Salt Lake County Health Department is coordinating with local hospitals, large event venues, and other resources to create vaccination hubs and clinics all over the county to ensure we vaccinate as many people as our supply allows, and that we are covering as much area as possible, so that every Utahn has easy access to receive theirs. When your appointment is confirmed, a specific date, time, and location will be sent to you.

By summer, when the supplies are in greater stock, and our rollout groups have been inoculated, our hope is for the vaccine to be available at participating local pharmacies for anyone who would like to receive it.

And remember, whether at a hub, clinic, hospital, or pharmacy – the shot is TOTALLY FREE for everyone. If someone is charging you for a vaccine, do not take it. It is most likely a scam or illegal and certainly not safe.


Besides a big sigh of relief?

After you’ve received your first vaccination, you will be given a second appointment to receive the final dose, which will be 21-28 days after the first shot based on which brand of vaccine you have received.

After the second dose your body will need 14 days to build enough immunity to reach the up-to 95% efficacy of protection. You may experience symptoms such as a sore arm at the injection site, headache, low-grade fever, or exhaustion. These are perfectly normal side-effects. It means the vaccine is working and that your body is revving up its immunity.

Finally, you must continue to follow safety protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding crowds, because while the vaccine lowers your risk by up to 95% against life-threatening symptoms, you still could pass the virus onto friends, loved ones, and members of our community who haven’t received their vaccination yet.

This site provides helpful facts from Utah’s top doctors and scientists, and information to help you schedule your vaccine appointment.

by Audrey Stevenson, PhD, MPH, MSN, FNP-BC

The internet often provides a lot of mixed messages about the COVID-19 vaccine, with opinions, fears, or conspiracy theories clashing with actual science. It’s no wonder a lot of people are confused about what’s real, what’s to be trusted, and most importantly – what to do. Let’s alleviate your hesitancy by giving you the facts behind the theories.

The vaccine development was rushed.

No and yes.

When a vaccine goes into development, it costs exorbitant amounts of money, time, and resources to create. There are also many levels of approvals and trials required that can often be tied up for long periods of time – months and years, even – because there are many other medications, treatments, and vaccines that are simultaneously in the queue to be examined and approved by global Food and Drug Administrations and similar agencies. And sometimes lack of funding grinds these developments to a halt. Because of this, our basic vaccine perception is that effective ones take years to develop.

When COVID-19 struck and became a global pandemic, scientists put other projects on hold (resources), they refocused their energy into working on this vaccine alone (time), and world-wide governments, pharmaceutical companies, private donors, and citizens came together to provide the funding (money) it would need to remove the standard roadblocks.

So, in comparison to a non-pandemic world where vaccines can sometimes take years to go from initiation to trial testing to approval, it was faster. But there were no steps skipped in the process – so it wasn’t rushed. It was funding and world-wide collaboration that merely streamlined the process.

Think of it like building a house. You need permits, supplies, and manpower. If only a single person was building the house, it would take years to do. But, if you were at the front of the line for permits, supplies and funds were limitless, and thousands of qualified builders arrived at your door, it would be completed much more quickly while maintaining quality and codes.

Get details on the trials here.

The COVID-19 vaccine messes with your DNA.

Not at all.

mRNA technology, which is what the COVID-19 vaccine is developed with, is unable to enact with the nucleus of your cells, where DNA resides. Instead, it tells your cells to create a protein that stimulates your immune system to recognize and fight COVID-19 if it enters your body.

Think of it like a crime fighter who shows up to your door, holds up a photo of bad guy, and says “Get ready. This dude might show up. And if he does, fight him.” So, your body starts building ammunition and protecting itself from any COVID-19 invasion. And based on testing, you have up to a 95% chance of whooping its butt.

There’s stuff in the vaccine you shouldn’t trust.

Not unless you have a serious vendetta against salt.

mRNA vaccines contain fats, salts, and a small amount of sugar. They also contain those crime fighting messengers we spoke about above. They do not contain any strain of the COVID-19 virus, fetal cells, or microchips. The only tracking devices related to COVID-19 is your cell phone so we can contact you about your upcoming vaccine appointment and Salt Lake County Health Department updates so you can continue to stay informed.

The vaccine is dangerous if you have a chronic disease.

Actually, the opposite.

Having a chronic disease can make you more vulnerable to life-threatening symptoms, long-term side-effects, or even death if you contract COVID-19. The vaccine will help boost your immunity and give your already compromised system a better chance in fighting it.

The vaccine affects fertility.

No, but COVID can.

There is no plausible medical rationale for the vaccine to interact with eggs, sperm, or an existing fetus. And trials have shown that the vaccine doesn’t affect fertility, but COVID does. Pregnant women with COVID have experienced complications such as miscarriage, still birth, blood clots, and preterm delivery. Getting the vaccine can help the mother stay healthy during pregnancy to protect both herself and the baby.

If I get the vaccine, I can finally ditch the mask.

In certain circumstances.

The CDC released a statement that fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask, particularly in outdoor environments. However, government buildings and medical facilities, as well as public and private transportation and privately-owned businesses may still require wearing one to enter. The reason being is that while vaccination gives you up to 95% protection against contracting life-threatening symptoms from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t carrying it, which you could inadvertently pass along to others. Until we’ve reached herd immunity with at least 70% of Utahns (and the country) vaccinated, it’s best to continue precautions to keep your family, friends, coworkers, and community safe. We know masks aren’t fun unless it’s Halloween, but the sooner people get vaccinated, the sooner masks will go away for good.

I’ve already had COVID-19 and survived, so I’m immune now.


First, having COVID is no guarantee that your body has developed antibodies. And there have been cases where people have had COVID-19 more than once. Add in the spread of variants (other strains) of COVID-19 and your chances of contracting it again go up. The vaccine gives you up to a 95% chance of preventing that from happening and we’re sure you don’t want to go through it twice.

The virus isn’t serious and won’t affect me.

11M+ people are about to disagree with you.

COVID deaths in the U.S. now exceed half a million. But what is really coming to the surface is that 1/3rd of those who had COVID and survived, or didn’t experience serious illness, are now experiencing long-term side-effects such as chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, permanent loss of taste and smell, brain fog, and other symptoms. While some people are hesitant about the vaccine because they worry about long-term side-effects, it’s COVID who is the culprit delivering on that fear with 11+ million people reporting lingering symptoms.

This site provides helpful facts from Utah’s top doctors and scientists, and information to help you schedule your vaccine appointment.

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