DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A mix of relief and reservations as the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine nears the finish line. Several options are gearing up for distribution. And yet.
“Let’s not spike the football before the end zone,” says Dr. Mark Casanova, President, Dallas County Medical Society. “I already have visions of taking my wife and daughter to Disney, doing something fun… we are not there, yet.”READ MORE: Granbury Mayor Nin Hulett Resigns Following Felony DWI Arrest
Dr. Casanova says vaccines are an important tool– but he and others stress that the impact will depend on participation.
“Right now, I have a major fear that although these vaccines will start to become more available over the next several months, many Americans won’t take them because of the fear that there’s some safety issues with the vaccine,” says Michael Osterholm who serves on President-Elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. Osterholm issued the warning during an interview on CBS This Morning earlier this week. “We have done nothing to really reassure Americans what these vaccines are, what they will do, how they will work and why they’re so important.”
Health officials estimate that between 60% and 80% of Americans would need to get a Covid-19 vaccine to create what’s called a “herd immunity”– that’s when enough people are immunized to deny the virus a pathway to spread. But research shows that most U.S. adults tend to skip recommended vaccines. According to a recent CDC report, only 43% of Texas adults get a flu shot every year. All this as medical research remains particularly difficult in communities of color.
“There’s reasons for that, right? There’s historical perspective, you don’t have to go back too far in time, look at Tuskegee studies and what not. We get that,” says Dr. Casanova. “We have to provide reassurance and be true and honest, because we do need that critical mass.”READ MORE: North Texas Graduates Navigate Next Chapter Amid Pandemic Job Market
Dr. Casanova is also calling on the medical community to lead by example– and be ready to roll up their own shirt sleeves, as he’s done just as part of the Pfizer Covid vaccine trial. He says it’s also important to be honest and transparent with the community.
“We acknowledge that listen, there’s some side effects with this vaccine. You’re going to feel cruddy after the second shot. I speak from personal experience. But I’d much rather feel cruddy for an evening and take some Tylenol than run the risk of getting Covid and landing in the hospital– or spreading a viral infection to my family members and loved ones.”
As local leaders make plan to craft a reassuring message to sway those willing to listen to the science, Dr. Casanova says there are really few options.
“We can take a vaccine, reach herd immunity, get a critical number of people vaccinated while we continue those safe mitigation measures, or we can keep living this way!”MORE NEWS: North Texas School Districts Facing Possible Lawsuits Over Mask Policies
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