Infectious disease expert shares what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

Infectious disease expert shares you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 10:48 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 11:40:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Even with a COVID-19 vaccine now approved, some are raising concerns over any of its possible health risks.

"The vaccine is not a live virus vaccine, there’s no way that you can get COVID," said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "It has a tiny little piece of the COVID virus in it, of course, and that’s used to stimulate our own immune system to develop protection."

Dr. Schaffner called the vaccine “spectacularly successful.”

"Well, the vaccines are 95% effective which means that some very few people who are infected may indeed get the illness regardless," he said.

The vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart. Dr. Schaffner says some might experience a sore arm along with other side effects.

"There are some people who the day after feel a little fatigued, have a headache, may have a degree of fever and feel not quite up to things yet and that’s your immune system working with that vaccine so that’s a good thing," he said.

According toPfizer, "severe reactions (Grade 3) were reported in fewer than 2% of vaccine recipients after either dose except for fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2.0%)."

Dr. Schaffner said those with underlying illnesses should seriously consider taking the vaccine.

"Any kind of health condition probably makes it more likely that should you get infected you’ll get more severely ill- those are exactly the people we’re interested in vaccinating to prevent that development of a more severe disease," he said.

Dr. Schaffner hopes after first responders receive the initial batch of vaccinations, the general public will feel comfortable enough to do the same.

"A certain hesitation or skepticism is normal. It’s all very new and we’ve worked very hard, very fast to develop the vaccines. We’ve cut no corners."

He also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not made any kind of official recommendation yet for those with severe allergies or pregnant women wanting to get the vaccine.