As the pandemic continues, news outlets throughout America have recently announced that 2020 has been recognized as the deadliest year in United States History, with thousands of COVID-19 related deaths and millions of ongoing coronavirus cases.
In the past few weeks, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer vaccine—which are designed to slow the spread of COVID-19–have been approved to be given to at-risk health care professionals first.
With the new year approaching, both vaccines will be made more available to different groups of people from various occupations. However, many people remain confused and doubtful about the effectiveness of the vaccines and about if they should take the vaccines when it is made available to them.
On Wednesday, December 23, in an effort to bring light to the many unanswered questions that Long Islanders have about the vaccines, Herald Inside LI held a Zoom webinar featuring three doctors—all of which have already received a first shot of vaccination to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“I urge people to take the vaccine because COVID-19 is a horrific disaster to human life,” said Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, who is the chairman of the Department of Medicine and chief, Infectious Diseases and Hospital epidemiologist, at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “We want to go back to hugging and seeing people and the way we will do this is through the COVID-19 vaccines. The goal is to vaccinate everyone.”
During the webinar, attendees were encouraged to use the Q&A function on Zoom to submit questions for the panelists. One question asked if the vaccine could negatively affect fertility.
“There were some cases of women who got pregnant after getting the vaccine, however, there is zero evidence that the vaccine can cause infertility,” Dr. Glatt explained. “I would tell a pregnant woman that it’s a personal decision if she wants to take the vaccine, but, if she chooses to get the vaccine, she might be protecting herself more, as well as, protecting others and their baby. They might even give their baby antibodies against the virus.”
Another question submitted referred to minority groups receiving the vaccine, and whether those communities were more likely to experience adverse reactions or lower efficacy.
“There were about 40 thousand people of color that were represented in the experimental trials for these two vaccines,” said Dr. Zenobia Brown, the VP and medical director of Population Health at Northwell Health Solutions. “We have proven that the vaccines are safe for people in minority groups.”
Dr. Brown and Dr. Glatt both agreed that although the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer vaccine were proven to be 95 percent effective in experimental trials, after people have received the vaccinations there is still a chance that they can contract the virus themselves and spread the virus to others.
“When I get my second dose of the vaccine, I won’t become Superman. I don’t know how to play the piano now and I won’t magically know how to play the piano after the second dose,” Dr. Glatt said. “We still need to be careful and we still have to wear masks and social distance.”
“I cannot stress this enough; social distance and wear masks, even if you get the vaccine,” Dr. Brown said. “My biggest fear is that people will not want the vaccine. I look forward to the day when more and more people will want to take the vaccines.”
For Dr. Nicolas Hernandez, the academic hospitalist at Northwell Plainview Hospital—who was also a panelist for the Zoom webinar— he said that taking the vaccine was a decision that he made to protect both his family, himself and to protect the patients he is exposed to.
“I was scared when they gave me the Pfizer vaccine, but I’ve been a patient with COVID-19, I’ve had family members that have had COVID-19, and I take care of patients with COVID-19, so I wanted to do my part,” Hernandez said, while adding that his only reaction to the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine was temporary fatigue and soreness in his body. “As a family physician, I recommend that all immunocompromised people should get the vaccine and even if you are not up for the vaccine, still do your part.”
This webinar was the final episode of the first season of Herald Inside LI. To watch the recording of this episode and all others, go to LIHerald.com/Recordings and subscribe to the Herald Inside LI YouTube video.
The next Herald Inside LI episode will take place on Thursday, January 7 at 7pm and will feature college advisors and counselors discussing students staying local for upcoming Spring semester, rather than going away to school. To register, go to LIHerald.com/StayingLocal.