Doctors answer questions about vaccines

By Page H. Gifford

On Jan. 26, the Fluvanna Chapter of the NAACP hosted a forum on Zoom with medical experts from the University of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Health District, associated with the Virginia Department of Health, discussing questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccinations.

The panel included Dr. Taison Bell M.D., an assistant professor of medicine in the divisions of Infectious Diseases and International Health and in  Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at U.Va.

It  also included Dr. Cameron Webb M.D., who is a practicing internist, assistant professor, the director of health policy and equity at U.Va.’s School of Medicine. Webb also helped found the Health Equity, Law, and Policy Research Laboratory at U.Va. Webb has been tapped for a senior role in President-elect Biden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The panel also included Dr. Denise Bonds of the Blue Ridge Health District (former Thomas Jefferson Health District).

The discussion opened with questions regarding the disease, its structure, and how the vaccine works to bolster immunity using the body’s defenses.

Dr. Bell began talking about the family of viruses known as CoV, including SARS and MERS. COVID-19 is related to SARS CoV-2.

“Variants are important and the reason they make the news is they spread more easily,” said Bell. Dr. Webb addressed how the vaccine works in the human body to ward off the virus by giving detailed examples.

“If you have any questions ask your healthcare professional,” said Webb. He recommends that those who want information do not search online because some information may not be accurate.

The question was asked why the virus is more deadlier for African-Americans and other minorities.

“The African-American community has been neglected and not getting what they need. We need to make sure that we protect as many as possible,” said Bell. Under the new administration, there is work being done to assure that the minority communities and native American reservations are included in the vaccination process. The problem in many of these areas is getting the people’s trust in taking the vaccine. Particularly there is hesitation in the Hispanic communities because of misinformation and more education is needed.

“The vaccines have been researched for over a decade and it appears to work well across ethnicities,” said Dr. Webb. Dr. Bell added, “The vaccines were developed using well-studied technology and were rigorously studied with independent oversight at all levels.” Drs. Webb and Bonds agreed with Dr. Bell that the vaccines against COVID-19 are very effective for preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection and are generally very safe.

Questions regarding reactions and allergies were uppermost in most people’s minds. Dr. Webb explained that some may have a reaction to the first dose such as pain at the injection site, some muscle or joint aches, some fever, or a headache. Some may experience a few of these mild side effects or nothing at all.

“My wife had a temperature of 101 after the first dose and then a temperature of 102 with the second dose but my parents had zero side effects,” said Dr. Webb.

“The severe allergic reaction is a rare side effect but everyone should be aware of it,” said Dr. Bell. He added that those with severe allergic reactions, such as a rash or the throat swelling and closing up are one in 100,000 with the Pfizer vaccine and one in 400,000 with Moderna’s. “Speak with your physician if you have specific questions or concerns.”

“It has been very well tolerated, only one person has had very mild symptoms,” added Dr. Bonds. They did add that if you are a heavy user of alcohol or are sick, do not get vaccinated until you are in better shape.

Regarding the cases that have been declining in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S the doctors stated this is no time to become complacent but to remain vigilant.

“After coming down from recent highs earlier this month it does look like our case counts and hospitalizations are coming down. Unfortunately, much of this is connected with the increase in holiday related travel,” said Dr. Bell. “We should remain vigilant because this virus has shown an ability to persist when we let up our guard. Additionally, the UK variant spreads easily and will make sticking to our strategies to contain the spread of the virus that much more important.”

Dr. Bonds added, “The best mask is the one you’re going to wear.” She also suggests following the new guidelines for mask-wearing and find one that has double layers of tightly-woven fabric.

Those waffling on the idea of getting vaccinated or refuse to do so for personal reasons might try to see it from Webb and Bell’s perspective. Though a day for them is often grim they are still hopeful things will turn around with the vaccine and everyone doing their part to save lives, including their own by wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands. Dr. Webb usually sees people who are not as severe but may need treatment and isolation whereas Dr. Bell sees much worse and is frank about what he witnesses on a daily basis including death. But even the aftermath of COVID-19 changes lives.

“Life changes for survivors,” said Dr. Bell. “They may experience depression or other physical changes affecting their lives which may not have been the case prior to the illness.”

As for the vaccine roll-out it has been slow, frustrating, confusing for many. The key to organizing is in the planning of logistics, effective communications, and timing once there are enough vaccines to go around.

“The federal government sends a certain amount and it is just 100,000 in the state of Virginia. The Blue Ridge Health District (this includes Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa, Green, and Nelson) makes up three percent of the population so that would be 2,800 doses per week. But now it looks like the federal government will be increasing the doses to states,” said Dr. Bonds.

The leading question was when would it be available at doctor’s offices.

“Eventually, you will get the vaccine from your physician’s but since these vaccines are so fussy, having to store one in ultracold temperatures, it is more likely that pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart will be able to provide it,” said Dr. Bonds.

Regarding long-term immunity, Dr. Bell stated, “Long-term immunity is not definitive but drug companies are tracking those who have been vaccinated.” There is a lot for these doctors to consider with the disease itself, the mutations, and the short and long-term effects. What we do and the choices we make will influence the outcome of the pandemic.

“Once we see cases decline and stay low as we start to gradually resume our usual activities, we will know then that we have turned the corner. I don’t expect this to happen until we achieve herd immunity,” said Dr. Bell.

For more information about vaccinations or to take the surveys, visit or call the district’s COVID_19 hotline at (434)972-6261.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138