Safety: the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.
Everyday, we engage in behaviours to ensure we are kept safe from dangers, risk or injury in our everyday endeavors. We follow rules and adhere to policies like driving on one side of the road, stopping at red lights, refraining from drinking bottles of chlorine bleach. We educate our children from a young age to bounce in the middle of the trampolines, tell them not to touch the heater or run across the road without looking. All incredibly obvious things that we know that if we did not obey the instructions would result in significant risk of injury to ourselves and others.
What about less examples of safe? Those examples where the likely outcome is a little blurred and could cause risk but also possibly could not. Safety is relative. Safety is examined within a specific context. Scientists cannot examine the safety of a substance or action in every single condition, so they examine safety within the context of intended use. Car seats for example, it is possible to conclude that a car seat makes a car crash less dangerous. Conducting crash tests tells us this. Therefore, using a car seat is safer than not using a car seat. Yet, even with the best, most highly rated car seat, driving is not and will never be 100% safe or without risk.
The same can be said about Vaccines. Every Vaccine can cause pain, redness or tenderness at the site of injection. Most vaccines cause more severe side effects. In the case of the Covid Vaccinations these include allergic reactions, blood clots, myocarditis, the issue of safety is to balance the benefits and see if they outweigh the potential side effects. The American FDA has moved to put warnings on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.1
With the roll out of the Vaccine imminent to the general population, the onus is on us all to become informed and make the decision for ourselves. We are lucky in New Zealand that Covid is not rampart and can take the time to make a considered decision.
It is unlikely that the vaccine will be offered to children aged 12-17 in the UK and they still have prolific cases of Covid.2
It is well documented that phase 3 trials of the vaccine don’t end until 2023 and that this process is standard practice.3
When it comes to how safe is safe enough? It could be argued that to trust in that old adage of ‘time will tell’ is the safest option.