WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — More than 21.8 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the United States so far, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, concerns about safety have deterred some Americans from getting vaccinated.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, spoke with NewsNation to clarify concerns and break down misunderstandings surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.
Should there be caution about getting the vaccine?
“This is a very safe and effective vaccine. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is killing 4,000 people a day,” Adalja said. “So when you are looking at the risk benefit calculation that’s needed to decide on the vaccine, the vaccine is highly favored in that risk benefit calculation.”
Adalja also said it’s important to remember that anytime we have a new vaccine, the long-term effects usually aren’t known for years afterward. Adalja said well-known vaccines like Gardasil, a vaccine for HPV, are still being studied for long-term side effects.
When should I get vaccinated after having the virus?
Adalja recommends that people who have been infected with the virus still get the vaccine to increase their natural immunity. However, Adalja recommends waiting 90 days.
“We usually tell people to wait 90 days since they have been infected to get the vaccine and that’s not because of a safety reason,” he said. “It’s so that other people who have no natural immunity can go ahead.”
Will the vaccine protect against virus variants?
The vaccines seem to be effective against variants so far but further testing is needed.
“A vaccine will provide not just one type of antibody but a whole host of antibodies, as well as spark what is called t-cell immunity, a whole different arm of your immune system,” Adalja said. “So it is very hard for a virus to mutate to be able to completely evade a vaccine.”
On Monday, Moderna announced its vaccine appeared to be effective against emerging variants that have appeared in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The company also said it’s testing a vaccine booster and an altered booster against the South African variant to see if that would be more effective in boosting antibodies.
What do I need to know about reports of people dying after the vaccine?
“Certain conditions are going to be diagnosed after the vaccine and it doesn’t mean that the vaccine had any role in that,” Adalja said. “There is just a certain number of things that happen in everyday life that are going to be blamed on the vaccine.”
Adalja stressed that in most instances, someone dying right after receiving the vaccine, such as the man in California last weekend, are just coincidences. However, before you get vaccinated, make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
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