CPP “Science on Tap” presents “vaccines: friends or foes?”

By Maria Flores, April 6, 2021

As more vaccinations continue to be distributed out of Cal Poly Pomona, Jill Adler-Moore, a vaccinologist and professor emeritus in the Biological Science Department, hosted a virtual meeting “Science on Tap,” to discuss whether vaccines are “friends or foe” on March 22.

Previously “Science on Tap,” an informative discussion with CPP professors, was held at Innovation Brew Works. Due to the pandemic, it switched to an online platform, allowing more doctors and experts from different parts of the United States to participate. In its latest installment, over 120 participants gathered to learn the purpose, types, and development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Maria Flores | The Poly Post

Adler-Moore addressed the side effects that some who have been vaccinated reported including muscle pain, headaches, tiredness and fever.

“Most vaccines stimulate the adaptive immune response, but they also stimulate the innate immunity. They protect us from disease and produce memory T and B cells,” said Adler-Moore. “If you have other diseases such as the plaque or typhoid, you’re going to die if you don’t get vaccinated. Same goes for COVID-19. Do I want to be uncomfortable for two to three days with a sore arm or slight fever? Or do I want to die?”

As of April 5, 20 mil. vaccines have been administered in the United States, with 4.95 million in Los Angeles County. Of the population with at least one dose of vaccine administered 29.3% are White,  19.6 are Latino, 11.8% are Asian American, 3% are Black, and .3% are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Frances K. Mercer, immunologist and assistant professor in the Biological Science Department, identified the two vaccine types approved by the United States: mRNA-based vaccines include Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and the viral vector vaccine provided by Johnson and Johnson.

According to Mercer, those who receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot, do not report strong side effects. For the mRNA vaccine, which requires two shots, more people report “being really tired and having a fever and thats kind of new for vaccines,” said Mercer.

“You can really see how powerful those vaccines are. It’s actually a good thing,” said Mercer. “We want an immune response that is even more powerful than the immune response we launch against a natural infection. We want really high levels of antibodies that will shut out the virus.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over $19.1 billion were allocated vaccinations, including $577,834,765 dedicated toward LA County. With the support of the government, research labs and health facilities were able to speed the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

However, Mercer referred to the unattainable triangle: “You can either have good, fast or cheap (vaccines), but you can never get all three.”

As the vaccines produce strong antibodies to fight against infections, the question of how long an individual is immune to COVID-19 remains unanswered.

Odalis Reyes, a third-year business administration student, follows safety COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing, wearing a mask and washing her hands for 20 or more seconds. Despite increasing availability, she does not foresee receiving the vaccine.

“I’m not planning to take it anytime soon because of all these responses from different people like ‘I’m having headaches, I’m sore,’ said Reyes. “All these symptoms should have happened before. If you haven’t had any illness or haven’t felt bad, it means something: you are taking care of yourself.”

Currently, the United States has no exact statistic of the asymptomatic population, however, it is important to note not everyone shows COVID-19 symptoms. Therefore, it is possible to spread the virus to another.

If interested to learn more about the virus, students can listen to science podcast “This Week in Virology (TWiV),” where medical doctors analyze COVID-19 research.

For further information about the COVID-19 vaccines, students can visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html and to determine COVID-19 eligibility visit https://myturn.ca.gov.

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