HealthWatch: Local experts dispel COVID-19 vaccine myths

Health Watch

Now that we finally have a COVID-19 vaccine that’s widely available, some say they won’t get one. While some of us couldn’t wait for a vaccine to protect us from the pandemic, others say the vaccine was developed too quickly for them to trust it.

Two local COVID-19 vaccine experts explain the decades of science and research  behind the vaccine’s development, why it is safe and, if you need one more, another compelling reason why they say you should absolutely get vaccinated.

“Service to your community starts here,” said Dr. Raul Mendoza with Aurora BayCare Medical Center.  “Love to your seniors and love to your mom and your family. Do it not only for you, but do it for others.”

As a pulmonologist with Aurora BayCare, Mendoza has been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic since day one.   

“Wisconsin is one of the top states in terms of vaccination,” he pointed out.

But Mendoza has also been following the research and science behind the COVID- 19 vaccine  development since long before anyone even heard of the coronavirus. 

“The technology has been there for more than 20 years now,” Mendoza said. “It’s not that it was rushed.  The research and technology has been around, ready for a pandemic since the early 2000s.”

Mendoza says the reason that research hadn’t led to a vaccine until now is simply a matter of numbers.  For any vaccine to be developed and approved, thousands of patients are needed for clinical trials to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“Clinical trials need a lot of people,” Mendoza explained. “Thousands of people.”

Then came the pandemic… and with it, the numbers needed to put all those years of research into practical use.

“This is not a one year effort, this is a 20 year effort in the making,” Mendoza said. “I’m very proud of American scientists for this.”

Mendoza says the magic lies in the infrastructure required to produce millions of vaccine doses in such a short time.

Developing a way to safely vaccinate an entire population has been quite an accomplishment as well.

“The vaccine process is safe.  It’s a very efficient process,” said April Leon, Nursing Professional Development Specialist with Aurora BayCare. “I can see over 500 patients a day here at the Aurora BayCare vaccination clinic.”

Leon heads up Aurora BayCare’s COVID -19 vaccination clinics. 

“We are open 7 days a week,” Leon said. “You will be able to self-schedule an appointment using our LiveWell app, you can also go to the website aah.org/vaccine or call the vaccine hotline (1-866-443-2584) to schedule an appointment.

Leon said that COVID-19 vaccine hotline is open 24 hours a day and vaccine clinics have on-site interpreters, making the process of getting vaccinated is easy and accessible for everyone.

“I’m so happy I can see more individuals come through,” Leon said.

More people coming through means, ultimately, we will all benefit.

“The benefit to the community is many more human shields are blocking the spread of the disease, so then we will contain the pandemic and eventually, we will win the war against this virus,” said Mendoza.

Experts say it’s also important to point out that the vaccine is free to the public. In addition to interpreters at the clinics, they also have handouts written in Spanish and Aurora BayCare’s COVID-19 hotline offers multiple languages.

To learn more call Aurora BayCare at 1-866-938-0035 or email: healthwatch@aurorabaycare.com

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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