The Florida WellCare Alliance (FWA) is a county-wide, 111-member peer-reviewed Physician Association which is committed to excellence in patient care. As a group we are concerned about the disinformation that is being widely circulated about Covid-19 vaccines in our community.
The concerns we hear are:
1. The vaccines were developed too quickly without adequate testing for side effects.
2. The vaccines are not effective.
3. There is other information out there that places doubt and fear about the vaccine.
4. The vaccines are experimental and not fully vetted and approved.
First, let’s talk about the speed at which the different vaccines first became available. Moderna and Pfizer both developed vaccines in record time. They utilized a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA) that has been used since the 1990’s in studies against cancer & infectious diseases, including other viruses. When the genetic code of the COVID-19 virus was reported in January of 2020, the process to adapt this technology to the new virus was almost “cookie cutter”. The vaccine clinical studies were started in the Spring of 2020 and completed for FDA review by the Fall.
Historically, it takes an average of four to six weeks for side effects to appear from any new vaccine. Knowing this, the FDA mandated every company pursuing a vaccine for COVID-19 must follow each test patient for no fewer than eight weeks. These vaccines produced mostly minor problems of injection site discomfort and occasional short-lived flu-like symptoms for the vast majority of people. Some serious problems occurred in fewer than one per hundred thousand vaccinations.
Vaccines are an effort to boost the patient’s own immune system. They are not 100% effective at preventing infection with COVID-19. If exposed to a large enough dose of COVID we are still likely to get ill. But the vaccinated are statistically much less likely to become seriously ill or die because of COVID.
Some data to prove this point: The Sarasota Memorial Hospital released a pictograph showing the number of patients in their hospital due to COVID-19 the week of August 16, 2021. Of the 230 patients 25 were vaccinated and 205 unvaccinated. 51 of those patients were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); 3 Vaccinated, 48 Unvaccinated. 34 of those ICU patients were on ventilators; 1 Vaccinated, 33 Unvaccinated. The data speaks for itself.
Misinformation about vaccines comes in many different forms. Unfortunately, today’s seeker of truth and knowledge needs to prepare for an onslaught of media garbage designed for the purpose of bringing in customers to their networks. It is important to know where the information you are watching or reading comes from and whether it is legitimate or not.
For example, if an Anti-Vaxxer is expressing his/her opinion about the COVID-19 vaccine by using personal attacks against someone that is promoting it, they have no fact-based argument and should not be taken seriously. If a news source is quoting an “authority” on his/her personal experience with the vaccine rather than a doctor or scientist that can quote statistical facts about the vaccine, chances are that reporter is looking for the “wow factor” to draw in an audience, not to educate you.
The vaccine produced by Pfizer is now fully approved by the FDA for patients 16 years and older with Moderna soon to follow. The other vaccines are approved for emergency use.
There are some myths about pharmaceutical companies “cutting corners” because they were given “emergency” permission by the FDA. In fact, The FDA has many rules and guidelines that must be met to make sure the highest level of protection is given to anyone that uses any kind of prescription drug or vaccine even on an emergency basis.
Congress passed the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005. The PREP Act was to allow medical companies to develop new vaccines and drugs to shield the public from an emerging viral threat. This Act was first used in 2008 when our country was bracing itself for a possible Ebola outbreak. The vaccine manufacturers have applied for emergency use designation under the PREP Act while awaiting full FDA approval. The fact remains that the vaccines are extremely safe and are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.
To make it clear, the 111 physicians of the FWA in Citrus County fully endorse the effectiveness of the currently available COVID vaccines. Please talk to your own physician & schedule your vaccine as soon as possible, to protect yourself and others.