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More Answers to COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread like wildfire, our primary care doctors in Delray Beach are getting more questions from our patients about the various vaccines. In addition, we’re still hearing a great deal of vaccine misinformation and confusion from social media and other sources.

Therefore, we want to bring you up to date on all the latest COVID-19 vaccination information.

COVID-19 up in every state

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the delta variant has the potential to outstrip the virus’s earlier versions, because it is learning how to reproduce more efficiently and to damage its host more effectively. This is what happens when the virus infects more human hosts.

“This particular Delta variant is faster, it is fitter, it will pick off the more vulnerable more efficiently than previous variants, and therefore if there are people left without vaccination, they remain even further at risk,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director of its health emergencies program, told NBC News.

Florida now accounts for 20 percent of all new cases, one of the top five states with the highest infection rate, and the fourth-highest per-capita hospitalization rate in the U.S. Hospitalization numbers in the state have seen a 73 percent increase just since mid-June.

At the same time, our fully vaccinated rate is 47 percent, with at least one dose received by 55 percent.

So here are answers for some who have been hesitant to receive the vaccine.

Q: Do the COVID-19 vaccines work as well against the delta variant?

A: Israel’s Health Ministry said last month that the vaccines appear to be only 64 percent effective against the delta variant. However, more recent studies in Britain, Canada, and Singapore show them to be 80-90 percent effective.

This assumes, however, that people have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. A peer-reviewed study this month from France found that just one shot of either “barely” provided any protection at all.

“If you’re vaccinated, you have a very high degree of protection from all of the variants,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told NBC News last month.

Q: Were the COVID-19 vaccines developed too fast?

A: While the vaccines for the novel coronavirus were available in near-record time, the technology has actually existed for decades. Think of it as changing the make or model of a new car. The basic automobile has been around since 1885, but carmakers are always coming up with new or better features.

The same is true for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Scientists developed the mRNA technology in vaccines in 1990. It cannot penetrate the nucleus of the body’s cells so it never goes near their DNA.

Tai Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, explained the technology this way:

The vaccine does not change people’s genetic code. Instead, he told the Jerusalem Post that it is more like a USB device (i.e., the mRNA) inserted into a computer (i.e., your body). It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but simply runs a certain program.

If you’re still concerned, however, you might want to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was developed using a technology used in many other more traditional vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.

Q: What about side effects?

A: Serious side effects are rare and immediately investigated. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines have been temporarily halted when serious adverse effects were reported. Authorities determined that the cases were extremely rare and that the advantages of the vaccines far outweighed the risks.

As for milder side effects, between one-half and three-quarters of those who receive the vaccine will experience some side effects. The most common is a sore arm. Other typical side effects can include headache, fever, and lethargy, although some experience stronger reactions. All of these clear up in a matter of hours or days and are a sign that your body is learning to protect itself from COVID-19.

Q: Why receive the COVID-19 vaccine if “breakthrough” infections occur?

No vaccine is 100 percent effective, including the COVID-19 vaccine. But the fact is, 99 percent of people in the hospital with COVID-19 haven’t been vaccinated.

The Associated Press (AP) did a survey using data from the CDC, which found that of the more than 18,000 Americans who died from the virus in May, only 150 were fully vaccinated. Other surveys show similar results.

Once you have the vaccine, hospitalization or death from COVID-19 is far less likely.

Q: Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain a microchip to track us?

A: No. Such technology doesn’t exist. The syringes themselves contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) device. This tracks when and where doctors administer the vaccine. However, the RFID chip cannot be injected into the body.

COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. It is dangerous and deadly. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please consider doing so, not only to protect yourself, but others who are too young or for other reasons cannot receive the vaccine.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call us.

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