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  • Dr. Bill Northey

A Letter From Our President and CEO, Dr. Bill Northey



When I first heard that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved by Food and Drug Administration I was ecstatic. I thought we can finally end this stupid pandemic and keep everyone safe. I was quite surprised when I started to hear about 30-40% of people, when surveyed, indicated they would not get the vaccine.

When I began to talk to people, particularly people who had concerns about the vaccine, I realized that the reluctance came from fear and lack of trust. As a self-proclaimed "Data Dork," however, I was surprised about the types of concerns that people had. I'm not sure that my thoughts and understanding will change anyone, but I do want to share what I know so that everyone can make an informed decision about getting the vaccine.

First, while the vaccine was able to be available in record time, it was no way "rushed." There were over 70,000 people part the clinical trials, which is unheard of. If you look at trials for other medications, like medicines for depression, high blood pressure, or diabetes most of those trials will have hundreds of people never 70,000.

Second, the technology that is used in the two available vaccines (known as Messenger RNA) is a technology that has been used for other viruses and was easily adapted to COVID-19. The other benefit of this technology is no one is actually exposed to the virus. The vaccines just instructs our immune system to create the antibodies necessary for COVID-19 so if the virus ever gets into the body the immune system will remove it. To me that is really cool--yes I'm a general dork too.

Third, because of the way the M-RNA works it is very effective. Both vaccines are 95% effective.

There can be injection site reactions and people can have an immune reaction from the vaccine, but this is not the same as getting COVID-19. The symptoms we can experience are from the immune system creating the antibodies needed to prevent illness. As Dr. Sherry Nykiel from DSAMH said at a Town Hall Meeting, "Believe me getting the virus can be far worse then any possible reaction to the vaccine." For people who have had a reaction the symptoms only last a day or two.

For those of you who have gotten or plan to get the vaccine, I want to thank you. I will be getting mine when I can, but I'm in Group 2 so I will have to wait a bit. Hopefully, the vaccines will become available to everyone who wants it very, very soon.

All the best

Dr. Bill Northey

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