To date, tens of thousands of Michigan residents have received the new COVID-19 vaccines, an inoculation rate far below the original projected goal of elected officials. The slow rollout has concerned citizens and public health experts alike, and speed isn’t the only issue facing distribution efforts: Vaccine hesitancy is proving to be a major hurdle as well.
Concerns about vaccine safety are coming from various groups, including anti-vaxxers who view this moment as an opportunity to promote their anti-science agenda. While others simply don’t trust the development process, Black Americans have expressed legitimate skepticism of the vaccine based on the fact that the Black community has been historically taken advantage of when it comes to the medical system, as evidenced by the Tuskegee syphilis study among other things.
Listen: Your questions about the COVID-19 vaccines answered.
With concern and confusion mounting, we thought it might be helpful to ask Detroit-area experts about the vaccine rollout in Michigan. M Roy Wilson, President of Wayne State University, and Dr. Paul Kilgore, Associate Professor & Director of Research at Wayne State University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the principal investigator at Henry Ford Health System’s testing of Moderna’s vaccine trial, are here to help answer some of the public’s most pressing questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health experts answer questions from Detroit Today listeners about the COVID-19 vaccines:
Jane in West Bloomfield: I am very excited about getting the vaccine, however… what’s concerned me is the allergic reactions. I have gone into anaphylactic shock from two separate medications, so this is creating a lot of anxiety for me right now.
Dr. Wilson: Any time you do a clinical trial you want to be as thorough as possible and certainly, there have been allergic reactions that have been reported. When you look at the numbers though… it’s exceedingly small and not out of line with having an allergic reaction to other medications. Having said that, you do have to be careful… particularly if you have a history of anaphylactic shock. One of the things that is happening in all of the vaccine centers is that they are making people wait for at least 15 minutes after the shots to make sure that there are no allergic reactions, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen within that time frame. There are precautions being put in place.
Editor’s Note: Consult with your own physician if you are concerned about your history of allergic reactions
Clare in Plymouth: All of the clinical studies that have happened with the vaccination, the participants have all had masks on. After everyone gets vaccinated, wouldn’t that mean that everyone should continue to wear masks to get that same efficacy?
Dr. Kilgore: I recommend anyone in our communities who is out and about and has potential for exposure to wear a mask, sanitize hands, hand washing, and continue the physical distancing to maintain protection against COVID-19. If you do get the vaccine, continue to maintain those activities even after you’ve been vaccinated. After you get vaccinated… the neutralizing antibodies that we need for protection against COVID-19 take a while to kick in, and we need that time in order for our bodies to create the new antibodies to protect ourselves. That happens after dose one, it will happen even more after dose two if you get a two-dose vaccine.
Tim in Detroit: The pharmacist in Wisconsin (who intentionally destroyed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine) did it because he said it was affecting people’s DNA. Why would that be a problem?
Dr. Kilgore: The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. The way that the vaccines work, these mRNA vaccines actually provide your cell with instructions on how to make a protein and the only protein that your cells are instructed to make are the spike proteins… It is not interacting with your cell DNA in any way.
Peter in Grosse Pointe: Will it come a point when it will be the case where I can simply go to the drug store and have my COVID vaccine injection, similar to how I did with my flu injection?
Dr. Kilgore: As the vaccine gets rolled out to larger and larger segments of the population, those places where the vaccine will be available will greatly increase. Pharmacies in the community are going to be key partners for delivery of the vaccine. Local health departments will be key partners and of course the larger health systems will keep delivering vaccines and there will likely be additional clinic locations where people can get the vaccine.
Web story written by Clare Brennan.