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We All Could Use a Little Community Immunity

COVID-19 Scheduling Update (3/29/21): Currently, OhioHealth is scheduling vaccinations for those 16+ and above. You can schedule your appointment through OhioHealth MyChart, or by calling the OhioHealth COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 614-533-6999 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the latest information regarding scheduling, visit the OhioHealth COVID-19 Vaccination Page.

Teens, COVID-19 and vaccines? These topics just scratch the surface of our latest Facebook Live. On Thursday, March 25, 2021, we continued our conversation about the COVID-19 vaccines with Dr. Joe Gastaldo, system medical director of infectious diseases at OhioHealth.

Note: The following is a written transcript of our Facebook Live event. If you want to hear Dr. Gastaldo’s answers to the questions, we’ve provided time stamps in our story, to help you get right to the answer in the video above.

As you read on, keep in mind that this information shouldn’t replace the advice of your doctor and was recorded on 3/25/21. If you have additional questions, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website.

What is the latest tonight with the COVID-19 vaccines? 01:38

Yeah, so since the last time we talked a lot has really changed. Let’s kind of talk about where we are as a nation. So, this is information that’s available to the public. I look at the CDC website every day. So, to date, over 130 million Americans have received doses of these vaccines. That’s wonderful. And in the background, we have robust mechanisms in place for people to report anything they want related to vaccine immune responses or side effects. They could do it through the V-safe app, or they can go online and do it through VAERS: the vaccine adverse event reporting system. Anybody could put that on there. And with all of that information, there have been no serious safety signals at all with those 130 million doses of the vaccine. Within the state of Ohio, roughly 25% of all Ohioans have started their vaccination series. And when you look at those 70 and older, roughly 70% of those 70 and older have started their vaccination series also. Another thing that I quite find fascinating is new data from the CDC shows in nursing homes. We know really nursing home patients, those loving long term care facilities have been hit hard by COVID-19. It spreads easily there, they’re elderly, they have health care conditions. And when you look at the amount of COVID-19 activity coming out of nursing homes, it has really bottomed out. When you look at that activity in the month of March, it’s really bottomed out. So really, what that’s telling us is, as more people in the community get vaccinated, our numbers will still go down. As a country, our numbers are much better than what they were. In the wintertime, we were roughly having over 200,000 cases a day, we’re now in the 50,000 range as a country. We have plateaued there, that’s too much infection. That’s where we were in middle October of 2020. There’s still much infection going on, and with that much infection going on, there’s too much viral replication with the potential for mutations and variants. The trick to making that all go away, the trick to not having to worry about the variants is getting infections down to a much lower level. And that’s by getting a vaccine.

There’s been a lot of news about the AstraZeneca vaccine here and abroad. What can you tell us about that? 04:49

Yeah, so the AstraZeneca vaccine tentatively is a very good vaccine. All we really know about it is what’s been published overseas and their trials. And, you know, our FDA, our CDC, the mechanism we have to review vaccines is the envy of the world. We leave no bars hold; everything is looked at with a fine-tooth comb. So, what the FDA told AstraZeneca was that we want to look at the trial done in the United States. We didn’t want to look at any of the trial information done overseas, because there were some questions about that. So, on Monday, through a press release, AstraZeneca did release an interim result of their data from the American trial showing 79% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. That was Monday. About 24 hours later, the data safety monitoring board, one of the review panels looking at it says, “hey, there’s questions in there, some of the data is old. That initial statement needs to be revised as soon as possible.” So, this morning on March 25, AstraZeneca changed that to 74% efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19. So, again, that’s what we do. We want those three independent review boards to do what they do. I want the AstraZeneca vaccine to be successful; we need it to be successful. We need vaccines for the world. So, we will get there. From what I know about the vaccine, it’s a good vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine, it’s an effective vaccine. It’s, mechanistically, very similar to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I know in Europe, there were some concerns about the vaccine being associated with blood clots. That’s been looked at, and there’s been no causal effect from the vaccine causing blood clots. Again, we need to talk about this, be transparent with the public about it, because it is something that we are learning about. But so far in our country, with the three vaccines that we have, over 130 million doses have been given, and there are no serious safety signals. And again, these vaccines are not experimental; there’s nothing experimental about these vaccines. These vaccines all went through very vigorous studies being reviewed in a very detailed mechanisms by three independent review boards. And now that we have over 130 million doses being given in the country, with no safety signals, I feel more confident as a doctor recommending the vaccine for the public, my patients, etc.

So, you mentioned something about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine. What does it take for a vaccine to be considered effective? 07:32

Yeah, so again, when we talk about efficacy, that is in a very controlled environment of a clinical trial. So, I didn’t mention this before, and thank you, I’ll mention it now. What matters the most when you get a vaccine? Does the vaccine prevent you from dying? Does it keep you out of the hospital…higher severity of illness? And when you look at the metrics of all the three vaccines we have, and even the AstraZeneca vaccine, all of the people who received the vaccine in this study had 100% protection from dying and being hospitalized. That’s what we want in the vaccine.

Viewer question: “if I have granulomas on my lungs, plus a poor immune system, would it be wise to get the vaccine?” 08:22

Absolutely. So, let’s talk about that a little bit. So first of all, before COVID-19, we give vaccines all the time to people with weakened immune systems. Flu shots, pneumonia shots, shingles vaccinations. The caution that we have for all vaccines is we do not give vaccines that contain live viruses to people with weakened immune systems. None of the COVID-19 vaccines are live viruses. Second thing we have to acknowledge too is people with weakened immune systems may not have the same immune response compared to people with normal immune systems. So that’s always there, that discussion has always been there. So, in the setting of COVID-19, people with weakened immune systems are higher risk of dying from COVID-19, from having a bad outcome from COVID-19. So, number two, as I said before the COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines. People with weakened immune systems can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Their protection might not be as strong as somebody with a normal immune system, but some immunity is better than no immunity.

On March 29, 2021, we’re going to hit a huge vaccine milestone by opening up appointments to any adult who wants one. What would you like our viewers to know about this next step? 09:42

Yeah. So, for Ohio, March the 29th, 2021 is a day of history. That is a time when any Ohioan, 16 and older, can sign up and get the vaccine. let’s dissect that a little bit. First of all, the ones that are age 16 and 17, the only vaccine that’s authorized for that age group is Pfizer. And when 16- and 17-year old’s go to be vaccinated, they have to be accompanied by a parent or a guardian. The Pfizer vaccine, in their study, it is the only one authorized for 16 and 17 years old. It is a safe and effective vaccine for that age group. Johnson &, Johnson and Moderna, their vaccine is only authorized for 18 and older. So nationally as a country, the vaccine is getting pushed out there the most is Pfizer. The one we are getting the most at OhioHealth is Pfizer also. So, we are getting there. In addition to that, I will share with you this: all three drug companies, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are now doing studies in adolescents and children down to the age of two. As 2021 rolls around, I expect more information to be released on those studies. And tentatively, we may have authorization for children towards the end of 2021 or 2022. How wonderful is that?

Viewer question: “What is the dosage timeline for the different vaccines? Can we dig into why there’s differences between your first and second dose?” 11:14

Yeah, so let’s talk about that a little bit. So always, we should follow CDC recommendations as much as possible. We should follow those as much as possible. And when these vaccines were authorized, they were authorized either, in the case of Pfizer, every 21 days or, in case of Moderna, the second dose at 28 days. That’s how they did the studies based on previous research. So, what the CDC says is the following, as best as possible, stick to the 21 day follow up for the Pfizer second dose with the 28 day follow up for the Moderna second dose. If by mistake the dose is given earlier, that’s okay; you don’t need to repeat it. And if you don’t make it exactly at 21 days, or 28 days, try to get it within 42 days. But if you get it longer than that, just get your second dose whenever and you do not have to repeat it. Most importantly, the mRNA vaccines are two dose vaccines. I know in the medical literature and even in the lay press there’s all these conversations about “oh, I previously had COVID. I could probably get away with one dose. That is not the recommendation. The mRNA vaccines are two shot vaccine regimens. Johnson & Johnson is one.

 So, we know that severe cases are very rare in the younger age groups, which could prompt some people to say, “why bother if I’m not at a high enough risk?” What would you tell those people? 12:41

Number one: COVID anywhere is a threat everywhere. So, if younger people don’t get vaccinated, they can act as a person to spread it to someone who is vulnerable. Number two: yes, it is true that younger people, generally speaking, do better with COVID-19. It’s more like a bad cold or, symptom-wise, like influenza. However, there are healthy people who become sick and die from COVID-19 and get hospitalized. The third thing is something that we’re recognizing more and that’s long COVID. Long COVID is people who have had COVID who have lingering symptoms, and sometimes these symptoms are quite debilitating and can last for many, many months. Fatigue, mental fogginess…and long COVID occurs in younger people. It occurs no matter your severity of illness with COVID-19, whether you have hospitalized COVID-19, or you have COVID-19 that keeps you out of the hospital. So that’s my real reason to get it as a young person.

What about folks who have concerns that the vaccines might impact fertility? 13:56

Yeah, that’s been refuted, and let’s talk about that. That came up initially on a Facebook post, where some scientist somewhere, and this has been refuted by the way, some scientist somewhere said, “Oh, there’s a similarity between the spike protein and a protein in a placenta.” That’s been refuted. A couple things about that. You know, in our country and in the world, there’s been millions of women who have had COVID-19 and have gone off to have babies and become pregnant. In addition to that, in the clinical trials of the people who were vaccinated in both Pfizer and Moderna, there were women who were not pregnant, who were in the trial initially, who became pregnant, who went on to have normal pregnancies and healthy babies, but that is pure fiction. And that’s been refuted many, many times.

Viewer question: “if a 16- or 17-year-old has asthma, should they get vaccinated?” 14:51

Absolutely. There is no reason why anybody with asthma should not get the vaccine. We know that people who have pre-existing lung conditions like asthma or COPD, are higher risk of having a bad outcome from COVID-19, just like influenza. So, people with asthma and any type of lung disease should be vaccinated.

Viewer question: “are there any reasons why someone should not get vaccinated?” 15:17

Great question, very few reasons. And again, let’s talk about that a little bit. If somebody is known to have a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to anything in the vaccines, they should not receive the vaccines. What’s in the vaccines? These vaccines are very simple. There’s not a lot of things in them, especially when you compare them to other vaccines like the flu shot. There are no preservatives in the vaccines. Basically, what you have in the vaccine is a little bit of sugar, a little bit of salt, to balance the pH and everything. And then the mRNA vaccines, you have the mRNA, which we all have (no one’s allergic to), and you also have the lipid nanoparticle or a piece of fat. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also very similar as far as its contents goes. What’s in the mRNA vaccine that can cause some severe allergic reactions is an ingredient called PEG or polyethylene glycol. That’s the active ingredient and a commonly used laxative called MiraLAX. And if somebody is known to have a severe allergic reaction to that they should not be vaccinated. What’s in Johnson & Johnson is not bad, but another ingredient called polysorbate. So, if somebody cannot get the mRNA vaccine because of severe allergy, they can get the J&J vaccine with caution. And vice versa. If somebody gets their first shot, and they have a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, if then mRNA vaccine, they should not receive the second shot. But what’s recommended in that situation is they proceed with the one and done J&J shot.

Let’s talk about side effects. We’re hearing that younger people might have a stronger reaction to being vaccinated. Why do you think this is? 16:58

Yeah, all of it basically has to do with aging and your immune system. So yes, they are side effects, but I like to kind of call it more like an immune response. They’re expected, it’s your body’s way of mounting an immune response. So, what we know about the side effects, or the immune response, the most common ones are pain at the injection site, followed by fatigue, followed by maybe a low-grade fever or temperature elevation, nausea, those are the big ones. We know that those are seen more below the age of 60. Above ages 60 with aging of your immune system, we don’t see an immune response as high at all. In fact, both of my parents in their 80s got both of the Pfizer vaccines and had no side effects or immune response whatsoever. We know that the immune response is seen more robustly the younger you are. What else do we know about the immune response? For people who have not had COVID, the immune response is seen more so with the second dose compared to the first dose. And for people who have previously had COVID, because their immune systems already been primed up by having the infection, the immune response is seen more with the first dose compared to the second dose. You can’t measure the robustness of the immune response to say, essentially, “hey, I’ve had a better immune response.” So, like, if you and I got our vaccines, and I said, “Oh my gosh, I was really off kilter. I had to lay in bed for a day.” And you said, “Oh my God, I didn’t have any of that. So did the vaccine work for me?” You can’t correlate that at all. Everybody’s immune response is different. Everybody tolerates side effects differently.

Viewer question: “Am I protected after my first dose of Pfizer, or should I get my second dose? Can I switch to J&J after already getting my first dose of Pfizer?” 18:44

Yeah, so let’s dissect that a little bit. So, when you get the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, you should get both doses. If you only get one dose, what you really are missing is the stimulation of the memory cells. Okay, so when you get one dose, you do get an antibody response, you do get some stimulation of your immune system. The second dose is what really seals the deal for an even more robust immune response and more induction of memory cells. The recommendation between switching companies is not there, you shouldn’t do it. As best as possible, if you start with Pfizer, you should stick with Pfizer. If you start with Moderna, you should stick with Moderna. If something accidentally happens, and that happens, life happens, the recommendation is not to start the series over again. And when it comes to going from the mRNA vaccine to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the second dose, that’s not a recommendation. But if it is done accidentally, your vaccination series is done because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one and done.

Can people who are breastfeeding get the vaccine? 20:14

Absolutely. There is no reason to believe whatsoever that a pregnant woman cannot safely receive the vaccine. In addition to that, as you and I talked about earlier on, a recent study just came out. And you can Google it. A recent study just came out showing that pregnant women who are fully vaccinated actually now have protective antibody that’s expressed in the breast milk. So how wonderful is that for a vaccinated, lactating mother to give some protection immunity to her newborn baby?

Is there a difference between getting vaccinated while pregnant versus getting vaccinated while breastfeeding? 20:52

Yeah, so let’s dissect that a little bit. So, the official recommendation is if a woman is pregnant, she can choose to be vaccinated. She should talk to her healthcare provider about it just to make sure she understands everything that’s going on. Pregnant women were not put in the drug studies. As a doctor, as someone who’s been following this for a long time, and knows a lot about vaccines, there’s no reason to believe that a pregnant woman will have a bad outcome from these vaccines, or the vaccines will do any harm to the baby. We give vaccines to pregnant women all the time. In addition, we know that being pregnant puts somebody at higher risk for COVID-19, not only for the mother but also for their baby. Since over 170 million doses of these vaccines have been given, we are now collecting data from pregnant individuals who have participated in V-safe, and there have been no safety signals at all in the 1000s of women who have been vaccinated with these vaccines. In addition, I will say this: Pfizer right now is doing safety studies on pregnant women for the vaccine. So, I do see there will be likely eventual authorization for giving the vaccines to pregnant women, sometime hopefully this year. But again, a pregnant woman can choose to be vaccinated, I would encourage her to have a discussion with their healthcare provider on the topic.

Viewer question: “I have fibromyalgia and it flared up after my first dose of Pfizer. What will happen if I receive the second dose?” 22:21

My advice would be is to get the second dose of the vaccine. Fibromyalgia is a very troubling medical condition for a lot of people. It’s a condition we do not know a lot about, my recommendation would be for you to get the second dose. When you go in to get your second dose, stay well hydrated, do not miss any of the doses of your medications that you’re on. And after you get vaccinated have a very low threshold to take Tylenol or ibuprofen or anything that you take for your fibromyalgia.

When should you be taking painkillers? Before or after being vaccinated? 23:05

Yeah, so this came up on a recent CDC call that I was on, I actually asked them why they came out with that recommendation. The CDC is very conservative. We want them to be conservative. As an ID doctor, I can tell you, I’ve been giving vaccines my whole professional career, and I tell people all the time, they could take Tylenol or Advil ahead of time if they want. The official CDC recommendation is because it has not been studied, and because there’s one remote animal study and one pediatric study that suggests that taking anti fever medications ahead of time may blunt an immune response, the CDC officially says this: don’t take Tylenol or medications like Advil ahead of time. However, if you develop any symptoms whatsoever after you get vaccinated, it’s okay to take those.

We’ve been talking a lot about side effects and when you would or wouldn’t take the vaccine, but let’s talk about the benefits of them. How do they help us and then those around us as well? 24:01

Oh, that’s a wonderful conversation to have. And the first thing I’ll say is as time goes on, and more people get vaccinated, we’re going to get to a better, newer normal, and we’re starting to see some of those things come out. When we have de-escalation of mitigation practices, it’s not going to be like an off on switch; it’s going to be like a dimmer switch. And we’re starting to see some wonderful things coming out as far as CDC recommendations. The first one that came out is if you are fully vaccinated, by the way fully vaccinated means you’re two weeks out from the J&J single dose shot or you’re two weeks out from the second mRNA vaccine. So, one of the advantages of getting J&J is you’re going to be fully vaccinated quicker than the two-dose mRNA vaccine. So, if you’re fully vaccinated and you have a high-risk exposure, as long as you remain asymptomatic, you don’t need to quarantine again. How wonderful is that?

Second thing that’s out, and this really made my mom cry. If you are fully vaccinated, in a private setting and a small group, you can be with other fully vaccinated people without having to wear a mask or physically distance. How wonderful is that? And, by the way, when you look at that in the CDC, they don’t define what is a small group. The only thing they say is a small group in a private setting. The second thing: if you are fully vaccinated, and within one household only, you can be with other people who are not vaccinated, who are considered to be at low risk of COVID-19. So really, that applies in my family, for my parents, who have grandchildren and great grandchildren who have not been vaccinated. So, they can be in a safe environment in their home with one family, of course, without having to wear a mask and physically distance. They can hug and kiss their grandchildren. How wonderful is that?

We have a graphic that kind of breaks this down, if we can take a look at that. This was a graphic that we created for the OhioHealth Wellness blog, and it will walk you through if you’re vaccinated, and then who will be joining you. Can you walk us through it? 26:17

Yes. Let’s kind of go through this again. It’s kind of a repeat, but let’s kind of go through it. Are you fully vaccinated? Yes. Who will be joining you? If you’re going to be joined by other fully vaccinated friends, you don’t need to mask if you’re in a private setting. If you’re going to be with non-vaccinated friends from one other household who are low risk for severe COVID-19, you don’t need to mask if you’re in a private setting. Again, how wonderful is that? Puts a big smile on my face and hopefully a lot of people listening to this. Who will be joining you? If they are an unvaccinated friend at high-risk for severe COVID-19 or the general public or lowers friends who live with someone at high-risk for severe COVID-19 or a group of friends from multiple households mask up and stay socially distance, you still got to do that. And again, a lot of it has to do if you’re going to be with a lot of people who you may or may not know, and how do you know with certainty if they’re fully vaccinated? You know, when we say the words fully vaccinated, a lot of people think if you get the shot right away, you’re fully vaccinated after a day or two. There’s a lot of caveats to that. So again, we have an obligation to protect each other. And again, just to recap, if you are fully vaccinated, you still have to wear a mask and you should still wear a mask in public. However, as more people get vaccinated, we will see a gradual de-escalation of mitigation recommendations.

Some people might argue, “so why bother getting vaccinated if I still have to mask up?” What would you tell those folks? 28:10

Well, again, kind of what we talked about before. The reason to get vaccinated, obviously, it’s a sign of kindness to your community and to your family. You could spread COVID-19 to vulnerable individuals. And also, too you could still get COVID-19 and develop long hauling symptoms.

What about traveling after you are fully vaccinated? 28:35

Well, the CDC recommendation is if you are going to travel, you have to follow the guidelines that have come out. So, what does the CDC say? They still say, unfortunately, you should avoid travel. And I will throw some shade at them, because I that does need to be updated. You know, if you are fully vaccinated and you are following the mitigation practices, I do think it is safe to travel and again you still have to follow the mitigation practices, being fully vaccinated not give you a free pass. I know in the infectious diseases’ community and even nationally, there’s a lot of shade being thrown to the CDC for that recommendation. But again, we don’t want to shame anybody- traveling is part of your resiliency. Traveling is how we take care of yourself. If you travel, travel safely. Being fully vaccinated is a huge layer of protection but you still have to wear your mask, physically distance, wash your hands, etc.

So, 16-year-olds are now on the vaccination list. And I am a mom to a 17-year-old and I’m honestly finding this decision…I’m a little bit hesitant, which I was like, sign me up, give me a shot in the arm. But when I’m talking about my child, I get a little nervous about it. What would you say to me for that? 29:43

Well, again, what I said before, over 170 million people have been vaccinated no serious safety signals. You know, the state of Ohio, we have been vaccinating 16- and 17-year-olds with medical conditions and congenital conditions, no safety signals whatsoever in the vaccines. In the Pfizer vaccine trial, the Pfizer vaccine trial did include 16- and 17-year-olds. And again, there’s no reason to believe physiologically or medically that these vaccines would cause an issue at all for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Let’s talk about kids under 16. You said earlier at the start of our live that researchers are starting to study children. 31:42

We’re getting there. So those vaccines are not yet authorized for anybody below the age of 16. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are doing studies in children and adolescents. In fact, the Pfizer study from 12 to 15, has already done enrolling, and they’re starting at a younger age. So, I do expect there to be authorization for these vaccines in children, perhaps towards the end of 2021 or 2022.

I know we have some kids who are anxious out there about COVID-19, how does the risk to them go down even while they’re not getting vaccinated just yet? 32:22

Well, anytime there’s less COVID-19 infection, generally speaking, they’re going to be less likely to come across an adult to give them COVID-19. So that’s a big thing. Again, as I said before, roughly in our country, we’ve plateaued at 55,000 cases a day over a seven-day average. That’s too much COVID-19. And as we get more adults vaccinated, we’ll see fewer infections in kids and fewer infections in all populations.

We’ve got three vaccines now and more on the way. What would you tell somebody who asks you which one’s the best one? 32:57

The best one to get is whatever is on the shelf. You know, like I said before, what matters the most in the vaccine is a vaccine prevent you from dying, keeping out of the hospital. And all of those metrics, the three vaccines that we have, and tentatively the one with AstraZeneca, performs at 100% for all those. So that would be my general recommendation. Now, to be completely transparent with people, there may be a time in a year, or a year and a half, where we say, “you know what, this particular vaccine performs better above the age of 65.” That science and that happens. That is how we do the flu shot. You know, in the 1990s, when I was a medical student, we did not have a preferred flu vaccine for those 65 and older. We now have something called influenza HD high dose, which we give to 65 and above because it gives them a better antibody response. So again, we are learning a lot and as we gather data, it could be that recommendations changed.

What if you have had COVID? And if you have, should you get vaccinated or is there a time frame in between there? 34:03

Yeah. It’s funny, I just did a WSYX TV interview on this yesterday, and this is very confusing for people because of mixed messages and how it initially came out. So, this is what the CDC officially says. The CDC says this: if you have had COVID, whether it be last month or six months ago, you should be vaccinated, and there is no defined interval of having to wait, whether it be 30 days or 60 days or 90 days. You can be vaccinated as long as you are out of isolation, meaning that you’re no longer contagious and you’re clinically feeling better or improved from your COVID-19, you can get vaccinated. People who do have COVID-19, they do have a level of immunity for a period of time. We just don’t know. For some people, it’s a couple months, for some people, it’s longer…we just don’t know. You actually get a better immune response, better antibody levels with the vaccine compared to natural infection.

Are there studies yet regarding how much vaccination lowers the potential for someone to still asymptomatically spread the virus to another person? 35:14

Wonderful question. So, that needs to be studied as a primary endpoint. What I can tell you is this, there are many signals out there from various studies showing that people who are vaccinated are much less likely to have asymptomatic infection or shedding of the virus. One thing Moderna did in their trial was everybody who came in, who was asymptomatic, before their second dose, meaning that half the people got one dose, half the people got one dose of placebo, they PCR all of those people. And they found that the people who only received one dose had a much, much lower positivity rate in asymptomatic infection. And again, that’s one study. But over the last four to five weeks, there have been more signals out there. And other studies showing that people who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be PCR positive and have asymptomatic infection. And that makes sense. That makes sense.

Do you anticipate that as children are allowed to get vaccinations will they open up by age brackets? 36:31

It’s going to be supply and demand and the way the vaccine is authorized. For example, Pfizer may submit their approval for 12-to-15-year-olds before eight to 12. So, a lot of it has to do with really how they submit it to the FDA, and how they how the data is gathered.

To wrap us up tonight…how are you feeling about where we are today compared to a year ago? 37:03

I’m ecstatic, I’m very ecstatic. You know, I think of it like a football game. The game’s not over. We are in the fourth quarter, we have a little lead, we have a little lead. And we want to win this game. And us winning the game all involves getting vaccines into people’s arms. So, a couple of things we have to do to really win this game, we have to take the vaccine safety and efficacy message to all communities, all zip codes, remember COVID anywhere is a threat everywhere. In addition to that, we have to take vaccines to all zip codes in all communities vaccine equity, there is going to be a time when we have less motivated people wanting to get the vaccine. Right now, everybody getting the vaccine are very motivated, very motivated senior citizens. Initially, once we do 16 and above, all the people coming in are going to be very motivated, we want that. There’s going to be a time when there’s going to be less motivated people: people who have some vaccine hesitancy, people who don’t have access to get appropriate questions answered. You know, I’ve been dealing a lot with COVID-19 through this whole pandemic with something, what I call, the infodemic. Or people have challenges finding the truth for concerns that they have. But we are going to get there. We are in a much, much better place. We need to pay attention to the variants…but guess what? Variants scarients. They’re talking about it in the news. Don’t be fearful of the variants. We need to study them; we need to respect them. But the variant that they’re talking about in the news, in our country, the UK variant, also known as B117…the vaccines that we have give you a great immune response to that variant. That is a potential wildcard in the fourth quarter, because that variant is taking off more in our country. And that variant spreads more efficiently, meaning that if you have infection with that variant, you are more contagious. So really, we’re in the fourth quarter, I feel very comfortable where we are. But I am concerned about vaccine hesitancy, we need to get vaccines into everybody’s arms, take the message to everybody and get the vaccines to the people.


This article is based off of a live interview conducted on Facebook on March 25, 2021. Due to the changing nature of COVID-19, some information might be dated. Always check with the CDC for the latest changing information concerning COVID-19.


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