NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The tool that could finally beat back COVID-19 is here, but most people are fine with letting others try it out first.
Polls this month have shown most Americans are unsure, or uncomfortable about being in the first group to receive the new vaccines.
Given that North Texas healthcare professionals are in the first group that will roll up their sleeve, CBS 11 asked what gives them confidence in receiving the shot, and what others should consider as availability expands next year.
Dr. Jo Anna Lueck, Assistant Dean of Curriculum at TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine
The refresh icon on Dr. Jo Anna Lueck’s computer has been getting a workout this week as she keeps checking to see if she has an appointment yet to receive the vaccine.
“I’m going to get it, the first second” that it’s available, she said Monday.
Working in emergency medicine at Texas Health Harris Methodist in Fort Worth, Dr. Lueck said her own family has been asking if the vaccine was rushed, and if they should get it.
She said her confidence comes from the way the vaccine was developed.
“We took science we’ve been working on for years, and were thankfully able to apply it to this novel virus, but using things we already understood,” she said.
She noted trails went for additional weeks, watching for side effects. Initial recipients will also be able to provide feedback on any impacts not already in the typical list.
“We’ll expand that across the nation, right? So you’re going to have lots of areas of input really almost immediately to look for any continued risk.”
Anyone who still wants more time to observe before getting the vaccine, she noted, will have it.
With widespread availability not expected until the spring, it will act as a buffer zone of sorts for people to make a decision.
Dr. Crystal Howell, Infectious Disease Pharmacist, Professor at UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth
Among those with some hesitation about the vaccine, at least until the last few days, was Dr. Crystal Howell.
With an eye for data, she wanted to see the detailed information from the vaccine trial, rather than trust a press release. Then last week, she dug into more than 90 pages of published data.
“And it’s made me feel significantly more comfortable to go ahead and get it as long as you’re otherwise healthy,” she said.
Dr. Howell was struck by the sheer numbers of trial participants, which she said was more than could have ever been asked for in a normal setting for evaluating safety data. It was collected from early spring, until early November.
Most adverse reactions to a vaccine she said, occur in the first six weeks.
“So it made me feel a little bit better to see the thousands of patients. 20,000 I think is a pretty good number.”
Dr. Joseph Chang, Chief Medical Officer Parkland Health and Hospital System
Another professional who said he planned to be first in line, Dr. Joseph Chang’s confidence comes in part by the emergency authorization granted for the vaccine by the FDA.
“These people are no joke. They are experts from all walks of life, all areas of science. They look at this from every angle, not just the medicine itself but they also look at the data. They have data specialists who really aren’t doctors, they’re just data specialists to look at the integrity of the data to make sure it’s true.”
The rate of effectiveness in trials impressed Dr. Chang, as did the large number of participants.
He acknowledged we don’t have any data on the impact over the long term, something Howell also mentioned.
The short term results though, he called remarkable.
“I will tell you that these trials have been run with a rigor that is beyond reproach. It is absolutely beyond reproach. The numbers can be believed.”
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