Get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can

The COVID-19 pandemic is like no other crisis we have seen in our lifetime. It has required a unique resilience and commitment to protecting the wellbeing of our loved ones, our communities and our neighbors.

Most of us did not imagine that we would still be experiencing such dramatic changes to our everyday lives, one year after the first social distancing measures were put into place. However, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With President Joseph R. Biden’s direction that all adults in every state, Tribe and territory be eligible to receive the vaccine by May 1, and with the $7.5 billion in the American Rescue Plan dedicated to track, administer and distribute vaccines, we are entering the beginning of the end of this dark period in our nation’s history.

As a student nurse, I experienced the polio epidemic first-hand. Specifically, I administered the vaccine that ultimately led to the complete eradication of polio from the United States by 1979. Now, thanks to the incredible work of scientists around the globe, building on decades of research on virology and vaccine technology, Americans have access to three excellent, life-saving vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

All three vaccines are safe and have been proven extremely effective against severe illness and death caused by COVID-19.

Each vaccine that has been granted an Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. has its own unique benefits, and all together, they will help to save countless lives. Thus, I cannot overstate what an incredible achievement it is that we have three safe, effective vaccines available just one year after this horrible virus reached our shores.

However, vaccines do not save lives; vaccinations do. The best vaccine is the vaccine you can get as soon as you are eligible. With conviction, I urge every American to get vaccinated as soon as they qualify under Texas’ state guidelines.

These last 12 months, we have all collectively witnessed great suffering. While many of us have been separated from our loved ones and our communities, we, as Americans, have all grieved together. Now, we can all celebrate this incredible scientific achievement, and, by getting vaccinated, we can begin the process to heal together and build back a better America.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson represents Texas’ 30th Congressional District and is chairwoman of the House Science, Space & Technology Committee. She is currently serving her 15th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.