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FAQ: When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, health officials set the record straight

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 18:53:32-05

Operation Warp Speed, initiated earlier this year, has been pushing to get a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time. Just this past weekend, the Pfizer vaccine got the green light from the FDA, triggering distribution nationwide, but some folks still aren't sold on the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Health officials have been working around the clock targeting misinformation about the vaccine, but that's not going to stop people from forming their own opinions. However, no matter which side of the aisle you fall on, one thing is clear, everybody is talking.

“I don’t have any [thoughts] concerning the vaccine,” said Rebecca McYoung.

“That’s just my question right now. It’s like, is it really going to be a big help? Or is it going to cause a lot more problems?” asked Samuel Gogoro.

“I don’t feel too good about the vaccine. I will not be getting it,” said Chandra Montgomery.

To get the vaccine or not, that is the question.

Chandra Montgomery, a health care worker who has the option to get the vaccine first, says she will not. She is now looking for jobs outside of healthcare, because she believes there is something off about the speed this vaccine was created.

“I just don’t feel like it’s fair. I feel like they should protect us. They should want to make sure that we’re all safe and make sure that everything is in order with these vaccines before just giving them to people not knowing how we can react. It’s not fair,” said Montgomery.

Talks surrounding the vaccine's validity heightened over the weekend with two allergic reactions to the vaccine coming out of the UK. Both are health care workers and have a history of severe allergic reactions.

Health officials say they understand the concerns, but say science plays no favorites.

“The basis for this vaccine has actually been studied extensively since 2005. It’s just that we were able to use that basis and specify it for COVID,” explained Dr. Teresa McNeal, Hospitalist for Baylor Scott & White.

“This vaccine does not contain any real virus, but it does make the system provide antibodies to the virus. It’s not a live virus that we’re giving, but it will provoke an immune response,” said Karen Percell, Advent Health Executive Director for Quality Management.

Health officials say people who have received the vaccine have reported feeling tired or under the weather, but add this is common.

“There’s a small percentage of people who do get a fever, 10% to 15%, but that usually only lasts for a day or two. There’s going to be some pain at the injection site, so pretty similar side effects to what we’ve been seeing with any other vaccine,” McNeal said.

To get the vaccine or not, that is still the question at hand, but health experts say that's up to you to decide.

“The choice to vaccinated or not is one that has to be made with all of your values, all of your risks known. Those are things that just you and your family and your physician can really talk about,” said Percell.

Pfizer says the vaccine is 95% effective. However, the CDC says those who do get the vaccine should still follow health guidelines, such as practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask and social distancing.

Baylor Scott & White officials tell 25 News they expect to receive their shipment of vaccines to their Temple location some time tomorrow. Though the time frame is fluid, they hope to start distribution as soon as possible.