Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
March 10, 2023
It’s been three years since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Now, as the pandemic begins to fade from our everyday lives, it pays to take a quick look back to remember how vital vaccines have been to keeping Americans healthy and the economy moving.
So, here’s a reminder that FDA-approved COVID vaccines are safe and effective. What’s more, these vaccines have helped ensure the American workforce stays healthy and the economy remains open.
COVID Vaccines Are Safe and Effective…
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
More than 672 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. In addition, serious side effects from COVID vaccines are known to be rare.
In 2020, Operation Warp Speed—a Trump Administration partnership between the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense—aimed to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
At the time, President Donald Trump touted the focus on accelerating the development of vaccines with the help of the private sector.
“My administration provided a total of $14 billion to accelerate vaccine development and to manufacture all of the top [COVID vaccine] candidates in advance,” Trump . “As a result of this unprecedented investment, we are exceedingly proud that both Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines are approximately 95 percent effective, which is a number that nobody expected to be able to get to.”
…And COVID Vaccines Save Lives
COVID vaccines have also helped to save countless lives:
- Early in the pandemic (in 2021), a study supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that COVID-19 vaccinations prevented nearly 140,000 deaths in the U.S.
- Later, in December 2022, a study by The Commonwealth Fund said that “the COVID-19 vaccination program in the U.S. prevented… 3.2 million additional deaths.”
Vaccines Help Ensure a Healthy Workforce and a Functioning Economy
COVID-19 vaccines remain the unsung heroes of an open and working economy.
Workers who take the vaccines—like all people who do—are less likely to die or be hospitalized after catching COVID. People who have been vaccinated are able to return to work sooner if they do catch the virus.
Simply put, with a serious and ongoing worker shortage—COVID vaccines are an important ingredient of a maintaining a healthy, fully-functioning American workforce.
Vaccines are Innovative and Pave the Way for More American Innovation
The U.S. is the global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation, with American innovators answering the call to develop the vaccines and treatments needed to lead us beyond the pandemic. In fact, 80% of COVID-19 therapeutics emerged from America’s small and medium-sized biotechnology innovators, illustrating the power of the U.S. small business community.
The COVID-19 vaccine’s mRNA technology was the result of years of research and development by the pharmaceutical industry and will pave the way for future vaccines for illnesses from influenza to shingles.
Despite these achievements, policies like the World Trade Organization's move to eliminate intellectual property (IP) protection for vaccines threatens the global framework for IP protections and jeopardizes the future of innovation. We can’t stand still. The U.S. must work to ensure our domestic policies and those in international institutions support the next generation of innovation.
What You Can Do: Make Sure You, Your Family, and Coworkers Stay Up to Date on Boosters
Being up to date on COVID-19 vaccines continues to provide strong protection against severe disease and hospitalization from COVID.
CDC recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group. This includes adults and children six months and older. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.
For more on staying up to date on your COVID vaccine boosters, see the CDC website.