As of May 11, 248,962 people in Onondaga County have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 216,069 have completed the vaccine series. Among people eligible to be vaccinated, vaccination rates by zip code range from 41.6% in Syracuse 13204 to 84.7% in Fayetteville 13066. When looking at the entire county population, we see that 54.7% of all county residents have had at least one dose, and 39.3% are fully vaccinated. We are continuing our work to have as many people as possible get vaccinated. We have reached a plateau in people’s interest in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There is plenty of supply of vaccine in our community at present. In addition to the Onondaga County Health Department and the NYS Fairground sites, other medical providers such as many pharmacies and private medical doctors are willing to give vaccines throughout the county. Vaccine availability can be easily located by using the Vaccine Finder tool.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, a little over 60 percent of people were interested in getting the vaccine with some variation in age, race, ethnicity, rural, urban, and political affiliation in the US. This is what we are seeing in our community as well. Adding to this conversation, a focus group done by the de Beaumont foundation showed that people want information from the medical experts, not from the politicians.
We know that COVID-19 is a serious disease, which can affect our entire body and result in serious health consequences, including death. The pandemic is still here and continues to change its course with new virus strains resulting in more devastation in the world – as we can see in Brazil and India.
We have made tremendous progress in the treatment of the disease; still, thousands of people are impacted by it. We continue to see the untimely loss of life. One of the most significant breakthroughs in this entire COVID -19 pandemic is to have the ability to prevent infection by SARS CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease, through robust vaccination efforts. As of May 12, CDC now recommends Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12 years and older based on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Another milestone in the fight against COVID-19!
Getting a vaccine is a very important and personal decision for everyone. Many people throughout the US have been vaccinated. For those individuals who are reluctant, I would like to learn of their concerns.
I often hear from people that they do not have enough information regarding vaccines…I get it! I understand their concerns as a few people close to me also express the same concerns, and I would encourage you to have a conversation with your doctor. I am sure he/she will be able to provide you with the facts you need. In the meantime, I am providing you with some facts as a medical doctor. Hope they will be helpful to you.
- There are two types of COVID-19 vaccines released under emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US:
- Two mRNA vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna
- One adenovirus vector vaccine: Johnson and Johnson
- Knowledge of mRNA and adenovirus vector is more than 2 decades old. Available genomic sequence of the SARS CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) in January 2020 gave innovative ideas to scientists to use mRNA and adenovirus vector during vaccine development. New technologies were applied in vaccine development to assist the entry of synthetically-produced genomic sequence of SARS CoV-2 virus into the human cell. This genomic sequence then gives our cells instructions on how to make a harmless spike protein that is unique to this virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, the material from the vaccine disintegrates. Our bodies recognize this spike protein as a foreign body and initiate an immune response from white blood cells by producing antibodies and have a memory of such an event. This helps our immune system to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if exposed in the future. This is how many vaccines work.
- None of the vaccines can cause COVID-19 disease. Once they prime our cells to produce antibodies, the components of these vaccines naturally disintegrate.
- COVID19 vaccines cannot change the DNA of our body. There is no known mechanism that can convert mRNA to DNA. Furthermore, DNA is located in the nucleus of a cell and RNA resides in the cytoplasm.
- Process of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US is very rigorous. After the FDA’s extensive review of each vaccine’s record on safety and efficiency in several phases of large human subject trials, it will issue EUA for the vaccine(s) that meet safety and efficiency standards. The review and authorization processes are only based on scientific analyses of data obtained in large-scale clinical trials of vaccines by medical experts.
- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provides a final recommendation to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after reviewing the data. If the CDC director adopts the recommendations, the public health and medical community can start offering vaccination to a particular age group. It is important to remember that medical experts, doctors, and scientists govern the entire process.
- There are no tracking devices or microchips injected through the vaccine.
- The majority of doctors who recommend these vaccines have been vaccinated themselves, including me.
- The vaccine is highly effective. Two-dose Pfizer and Moderna are 95% effective; single-dose J&J is 85 % effective. This is more than the yearly flu vaccine’s effectiveness.
- All three COVID-19 vaccines are successful in preventing the development of serious COVID-19 disease if there is a rare breakthrough infection despite vaccination and 100% successful in preventing hospitalization and death in clinical trials.
- None of these vaccines cause human infertility.
If you get these facts but still want to know why you should get vaccinated, the reasons are very important and very simple:
- If the majority of people get vaccinated, we can have normalcy in our lives. We can enjoy family and friend get-togethers, celebrate birthdays, attend large events, and travel. We may not need face masks after all. However, to have this universal in any community, we will need herd immunity.
- The economy will improve. The stay-at-home order resulted in the loss of livelihood and loss of homes for many Americans in every community. With many people vaccinated, the health risk will be significantly reduced and businesses gradually will return back to pre-pandemic level.
- It will protect your health and the health of your family and friends.
Please continue to stay informed and talk to your doctor, and when you are ready, make an appointment at one of the many locations in the community. I hope your doctor can give you the vaccine in the office, if not you can find a location using the Vaccine Finder tool.
- Kaiser Family Foundation: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/dashboard/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-dashboard/
- Beaumont Foundation: https://debeaumont.org/changing-the-covid-conversation/
- What is EUA: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization
- NIH: COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/covid-19-vaccine-faq
- How vaccines are developed: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/distributing/steps-ensure-safety.html
- This has three phases of clinical trials: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/basics/test-approve.html
- CDC director’s statement on vaccination for adolescents 12 years and older: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0512-advisory-committee-signing.html
May 12, 2021