MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As Alabama, and the rest of the country, continues to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, questions are still lingering about the safety of the shots and how effective they really are.
“We know that after one dose, you do have some protection from COVID-19 infection, even after just one dose. But after two doses, the data shows that it’s about 95 percent effective at preventing infections,” said Co-Chair of UAB’s Emergency Management Committee Dr. Sarah Nafziger,
Nafziger explains even those who only get one of the two doses of the vaccine will be somewhat protected.
“They don’t have that 95 percent effectiveness; they’re going to have some lesser degree of immunity. But we also know that if they do catch COVID, that they have better outcomes, they tend to not have such a severe course,” Nafziger said.
Doctors don’t deny there are valid reasons to have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We can’t pretend that there’s no reason for people to be nervous, especially members of the African American community, the black community. We have to validate those concerns,” UAB’s Chief of Hospital Medicine, Dr. Kiersten Kennedy understands.
Kennedy explained nearly everything related to coronavirus has been experimental so far, and these vaccines are actually the least experimental form of treatment doctors have had to fight the virus.
“The vaccines are probably better off than some of our treatments because the technology and the science behind the development of the vaccine has actually come from work that they’ve done for years to develop other vaccines,” said Kennedy.
There have been questions about allergic reactions, whether those with allergies to the vaccines’ ingredients should get the shot. UAB doctors are prepared for even unexpected reactions.
“One of the requirements to have a vaccine site is you have to have the capability to monitor people for 15 minutes after they receive the vaccination to make sure that they’re not showing signs of an allergic reaction. And then we also have to have the capability to take care of them if they start to show those signs,” Nafziger said, making it clear that she’s comfortable with the vaccines’ safety.
“I feel confident that it’s safe to administer. I don’t have any hesitation about that,” Nafziger continued. “The safety data that was published from the clinical trials looks wonderful.”
Bottom line, doctors are confident the vaccine is safe and effective, but they encourage the public to do some research and make sure you feel confident on your own about getting the vaccine.
“Get the facts. Acknowledge the fact that they have doubts, acknowledge the reasons why they have doubts, and feel validated and that it’s ok for them to have those doubts. But don’t allow the doubts to keep you from getting the facts. Read about it, talk to your doctor about it, and go forward and make a decision from there,” Kennedy urged.
If you’re not a healthcare provider, you have some time to do some studying. The vaccines will probably not be widely available to the general public until the spring or summer.
The vaccine takes about two weeks to reach its maximum effectiveness. What’s still unknown is exactly how long the vaccine will remain effective.