One year ago, if you had asked public health experts if there would be a safe and effective vaccine to protect us against the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) less than 12 months after learning about this novel virus, they would have declared it unlikely and pointed to the lengthy approval process for prior vaccines. Had you told them there would be not one but three safe and highly effective vaccines available, they would have declared it a medical miracle.
Although the development of these vaccines was nothing short of a miracle, it was driven by science and the hard work and tenacity of American biomedical innovation. This past year, I have watched as scientists conducted rigorous and transparent trials to develop these COVID-19 vaccines, making history and saving lives. Through Operation Warp Speed, scientists and manufacturers were able to cut red tape, not corners, working day and night to conduct every study, every phase and every trial necessary to prove the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
Whether it be the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, these vaccines are our tickets to living life as free as we did before, ending restrictions on movement and returning to normalcy. With these vaccines, we will be able to safely hug our grandchildren again, enjoy life’s celebrations with friends and family, and return to places of worship with our communities. These vaccines have all undergone rigorous studies and are nothing short of effective in protecting against the severity of this virus and against hospitalization. In fact, these vaccines are even more effective than the yearly flu vaccine.
There have been too many rumors and rampant disinformation on the safety and necessity of the COVID-19 vaccine, and as a doctor, I assure you that getting a vaccine is a far better option than getting COVID-19 and putting yourself or someone you love in the hospital or a grave. These vaccines are safe. These vaccines are effective. And these vaccines were developed based on facts and science.
Just like Donald and Melania Trump, I too have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. I take the Hippocratic Oath very seriously, and I would not recommend this vaccine if I did not believe it was safe; it was developed using the best science available. Last week, during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations meeting, I asked Dr. Fauci how Congress can help reduce hesitancy toward the vaccine. He told me that the Trumps’ and my decisions to receive the vaccine was the best example.
In my nearly three decades of medical practice prior to serving in Congress, I witnessed vaccine hesitancy firsthand. I would see college students opt not to receive the measles vaccination prior to a mission trip and return from Mexico sick with measles. The best medicine we have is preventive medicine, and vaccines are one of, if not the most powerful preventive tools in our toolbox. The COVID-19 vaccine is no different.
We are fortunate to live in this country and in the state of Texas. This is a country where our freedoms have allowed American innovation to bring us toward the end of this pandemic. We are also fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom to decide — but as a doctor, I urge you to consult with your physician and consider receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The health and wellness of you, your family and your community depend on it.