GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we get closer to a potential COVID-19 vaccine approval in the U.S., doctors are hoping the public actually gets the vaccine once it’s available.
Recent polling from Pew Research shows about 60% of Americans say they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Local infectious disease doctors tell WXMI that that number will be just enough to put a serious dent in infections, but the more immunity, the better.
Dr. Andrew Jameson, the Division Chief for Infectious Disease at Mercy Health said, “I am optimistic for the first time in a while.”
Dr. Jameson added that he’s seeing a bit of light at the end of a very long tunnel with a COVID vaccine approval potentially just days away.
“I can tell you right now from what I’ve seen, from an efficacy standpoint, from a safety standpoint, I am going to be definitely getting the vaccine personally and I have zero issues of giving my family the vaccine when it’s available,” Dr. Jameson said.
With two COVID-19 vaccines on deck for approval with the FDA, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna, Dr. Jameson is hoping that people feel confident in getting it once they’re able.
“If we get about 60% of people immunized and then we also have the natural immunity out there giving us a little bit of extra help, I think that is going to be a huge impact,” Dr. Jameson said.
Dr. Jameson said he also understands that people may be wary of such a new vaccine.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a fair amount of skepticism in the community about vaccines before all of this, and now in the setting of this being moved forward pretty quickly, I think there’s probably a little bit of a natural skepticism,” he said.
He said the biggest reason he’s heard for not wanting the vaccine is that things are just moving too fast.
“Before this, the fastest that we ever had a vaccine get from the beginning to the end to where people were getting it, was four years, and this one is going to be about 10 months,” Dr. Jameson said.
Dr. Jameson called the trial and manufacturing process of both companies vaccines, ‘the most transparent’ he’s ever seen and trusts the FDA to leave no stone unturned before approval.
“They get all the notes from the doctors, they get all the patient encounter visits from the sites that are doing the vaccine, so they actually get all of the raw data and re-interpret it and re-analyze it themselves for efficacy, so they don’t just believe what the drug manufacturers tell them,” he explained.
He wants people to also understand potential vaccine side effects, to make sure they come back for their second dose. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses given several weeks apart to reach full effectiveness.
“If I know that my arm is going to hurt, and I might have a headache, and I might feel run-down for a day or two, if I know that, it’s very different than if that’s a surprise to me,” he said.
The FDA is scheduled to meet on Thursday to review the Pfizer vaccine and then again on Dec. 17 to look over Moderna’s vaccine.
This story was first reported by Annie Szatkowski at WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan.