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Yes, Tacoma-Pierce, we will get on the other side of this pandemic.

The legacy of vaccines to fight public health emergencies.

With vaccines, we’ve done it before. And with the new COVID-19 vaccine, we will do it again.

Let’s review:

Polio: The polio epidemic was at its peak in the 1950s. Families lived in fear. Swimming pools, beaches, and movie theaters were closed to prevent the spread.

Sound familiar? The polio vaccine was proven to be safe and effective in 1955. Two years after its release, cases had dropped by 85-90%.

Measles: Washington experienced two measles outbreaks last year. Communities with low measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates—the vaccine that prevents measles—saw more people get sick. High rates of community immunity prevented epidemic spread in Pierce County.

H1N1: The pandemic flu vaccine in 2009 prevented hundreds of thousands of illnesses. We’re using many lessons from that experience to better prepare for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

Vaccines prompt our immune system to make antibodies so when we are exposed to a virus or bacteria, our immune system destroys it before it can make us sick. They give us immunity without getting the disease.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a new virus our bodies haven’t learned to fight yet. But that’s about to change. COVID-19 vaccines will help halt this pandemic.

Vaccines protect you and your neighbors.

Getting a vaccine is a simple way to improve your health. Scientists, medical professionals, and public health experts evaluate the vaccine schedule every year to make sure vaccines provide protection when people need it the most. They make decisions like recommending  meningococcal vaccine for teens as they prepare for college, or Tdap during pregnancy to protect the mother and newborn.

The effects of vaccines extend beyond individual health. They are vital for a community. They protect those who cannot get vaccinated, because of age or health conditions. They also promote community immunity. The more people who are immune, the less likely a disease can spread. We saw this with the state’s measles outbreaks, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be just as essential to keep our communities healthy.

Another tool in the pandemic-fighting toolbox.

During this pandemic, we need to use all the tools we have to keep people well. For many months, that has meant these and other steps to slow disease spread:

Soon, getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be one of those options. We are excited about the safety and effectiveness data on the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines. We know getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will be crucial to stop the spread of disease.

It will help lead us to opening schools, businesses, and other places. It will help us end this pandemic.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine at tpchd.org/covid19vaccine

A healthcare provider injects a vaccine into a patient's arm