Please take my three-question survey about the COVID vaccine

Wells Dam banner

December 16, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The COVID pandemic is approaching one year in Washington state, and these past months have been extremely difficult. I remember the Legislature working diligently last March to wrap up the 2020 session as some of the first cases of COVID in the United States were confirmed in Washington state. Most of us never would have anticipated the full scope of challenges the pandemic would bring to our country and others around the world. We have suffered loss of life, widespread economic impacts, and tremendous challenges for businesses, schools, and families. This pandemic is indeed unprecedented and so is the creation of vaccines in record time. Below is basic information about the COVID vaccine. Beyond this information, I encourage you to learn as much as possible through official sources at, state Department of Health and

Pfizer vaccine image #1

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now being distributed in Washington state.

Multiple vaccines in development in United States

Developed after months of trials, two leading companies (Pfizer and Moderna) have produced COVID vaccines for distribution in the United States. Pfizer’s vaccine has received approval and Moderna’s vaccine is likely to receive approval soon. Many other COVID vaccines are in development worldwide. Under the approximate $10 billion federal program known as “Operation Warp Speed,” the Phase 3 trials for these vaccines demonstrated nearly 95 percent effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus. In Washington state, the Department of Health has been organizing its efforts with a Vaccine Coordination Team consisting of medical and immunization specialists. With emergency use authorization granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 11, 2020, the first doses of the vaccine were recently made available for distribution. In the first phase of distribution, the vaccine is being provided to first responders at the highest risk and also high-risk residents in long-term care facilities. Subsequent phases of distribution will include additional first responders, health care providers, long-term care residents, school employees, and the general public.

The initial vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will require two doses a few weeks apart. Anyone who receives an initial dose of the vaccine will automatically receive a second dose to complete the vaccination. The most commonly reported vaccination side effects during trials were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but possibly more so after the second dose.

Pfizer vaccine image #2

The Pfizer vaccine received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on December 11 and the first doses are now being administered.

Learn more about the COVID vaccines

Pfizer vaccine

Pfizer is one of the companies that has developed a COVID vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech. According to them, their experimental COVID-19 vaccine proved 95 percent effective in preventing infections and cause no serious concerns or side effects. According to a PBS report, the COVID vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna (see below) use RNA molecules to help the human bodies make important proteins: “Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines prompt a person’s cells to produce the SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, so their immune system can learn to recognize it and develop Covid-19-fighting antibodies without having any contact with the actual virus.” The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses approximately three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine requires two doses 28 days apart. One of the main differences with the Pfizer vaccine is that it must be stored at minus 94 F in ultra-cold freezers.

To learn more about the Pfizer vaccine, please see these links:

Moderna vaccine

Moderna partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop a COVID vaccine likely soon to be distributed. The effectiveness of this vaccine has been reported to be 94.1 percent. Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine can be stored in freezers 25 F, which is a common temperature for home freezers. This makes the distribution and storage easier. Like the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna’s vaccine uses RNA molecules similarly and requires two injections approximately three weeks apart from each other. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe how the vaccines work in more detail here. It is unclear how long either vaccine will protect against the virus. Moderna plans to produce 20 million doses in 2020 and as many as one billion doses in 2021.

To learn more about the Moderna vaccine, please see these links:

COVID cases graph (12-20)

This graph shows DOH’s confirmed COVID cases as of December 14. During December 13-14, the confirmed case number appears to have dropped significantly. As we have learned, the virus data changes daily, so please monitor the sites I have shared for the latest information.

Importance of establishing herd immunity

Herd immunity – sometimes referred to as “community immunity” – is a medical term describing what occurs when a certain level of immunity is achieved within a large group of people. This immunity keeps the virus from spreading and protects people who are not immune individually. Herd immunity can be achieved through a combination of natural infection and immunizations, but most medical experts recommend achieving herd immunity through vaccinations. Opinions vary among epidemiologists about what percentage of immunity will be needed for COVID, but in the case of polio, the threshold for herd immunity is approximately 80 percent. If that is similar for COVID, at least 80 percent of Washingtonians will need to have COVID antibodies as a result of either infection or immunizations in order to eliminate community spread of the virus. For more information about herd immunity, click here.

Additional information about the virus and vaccine

To learn more about the COVID vaccine and potential risks, please see these links:

Please take my 3-question COVID vaccine survey

Hearing from you is always important and helpful to me. With the COVID vaccine in its early stages of distribution and with our school system greatly disrupted this past year, I want to hear directly from you on this issue. There has been some discussion about future vaccine protocols and state policies. While I do not want to influence your responses in any way, my position is that while I am encouraged by vaccines and definitely want my family to be vaccinated, I support individual choices. I do not believe the government should require certain employees to be vaccinated or force parents to vaccinate their children. Having shared that, I am eager to receive your survey responses to reflect upon your thoughts and opinions. Your answers will be anonymous.

  • Please click here to take my survey.

Please contact me with questions or concerns

While the Capitol Building in Olympia will remain mostly empty into 2021, please know that legislators and their office staff continue to work remotely. My staff and I are ready to assist you throughout the day. If you have questions or comments about state government or the legislative session, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000