We are awaiting a vaccine

The pandemic is hard.

The impact of the pandemic is felt by everyone.

My expectation is that we will need to be very careful and change our behaviors and adjust to the impact of the pandemic socially, economically, scholastically, physically, mentally and emotionally for a total timeframe of about 12-15 months. We began adjusting in March.

Socially distancing, avoiding indoor prolonged exposures, wearing masks, staying home when we do not feel well and washing our hands are our major defenses now.

We are now 5 months into the changes to our society. I think we have at least another seven to 10 months to go. At that point experts predict a vaccine will be available in quantities high enough to immunize more than 70-75% of Americans. Experts have targeted 70% as a minimum goal to control the pandemic. 

There will be those that do not want to participate in the vaccine.  I am having conversations with patients every day about accepting the vaccine(s) that will be available.  I am encouraged by the conversations I have had.  Regardless I am writing this blog today to encourage vaccination once available.  Experts are concerned many Americans will refuse the vaccine.

We need to understand the science with the vaccines that are developed. Once we understand, we can then move forward with vaccinating the population. Individually each of us will need to decide if we will accept the vaccine … its proven benefits and risks.

I have made this decision for myself … of course … already. Assuming that a vaccine is available that is effective and low risk I will accept it and recommend it to my patients.

I will accept it because this is a decision that not only impacts me … it impacts every person in the world. The more people that are vaccinated the fewer people that will be disabled or die due to COVID-19. There is no question that I will accept the vaccine.  As I check in with MFM patients I am encouraged that nearly all will either accept or strongly consider accepting the vaccine depending on the testing that has been completed and reported.

I do feel that if you are considering not accepting the vaccine that is proven efficacious and safe that you reconsider your decision with the awareness that your decision to accept the vaccine will help others.

I have been in healthcare for over 40 years now. I have a very small patient population that refuses nearly every vaccine. I would estimate that group at 2-5 in a thousand.

I have a much larger patient population that does not want to get the flu vaccine each year (roughly 200-300 out of a thousand). Many of these patients believe they will get sick if they take the vaccine or that it is not very effective. My responses to these reasons:  The science regarding the flu vaccine is unequivocal … one does not get sick from the vaccine.  While efficacy is an issue for the vaccine some years, it is always beneficial ... and the benefit far outweighs the small risk.  This larger group will accept most other vaccines and seem willing to listen to and consider a vaccine for COVID-19.

The measles mumps rubella vaccine has a particularly vocal group of people that believe it harms toddlers. The science contradicts the issues brought up by this autism focused group. We should have ample evidence of the risks with vaccines developed to prevent COVID-19 before we start vaccinating.  The vaccine is unlikely to contain thimerosal (mercury even in tiny amounts).  Mercury has been the focus of this group.

The experts in the country are pleading with citizens of the United States to get the vaccine that is sanctioned by the FDA as effective and safe for COVID-19.  Surviving this pandemic will only be successful if we get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

I have a very small group of patients that are impacted by immunologic issues that may make them more susceptable to complications from vaccines.  This group must rely on the population in general getting the vaccine.

I will only recommend a vaccine with the science demonstrating it is safe and efficacious.

Gary Thompson, MD - August 5, 2020 - 0633