Mayo Clinic doctor urges Arizonans to get coronavirus vaccination

Dec 11, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 9:09 am

PHOENIX — With Arizona just days away from getting its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines, an infectious disease doctor encourages people to get vaccinated.

“The more people that are protected against COVID-19, the more likely that we’ll have less hospitalizations, less deaths,” said Dr. Abinash Virk, co-chair of the COVID-19 vaccine allocation and distribution workgroup for the Mayo Clinic.

“The question about transmissions still remains,” Virk said.” But at least we will decrease the amount of morbidity and mortality that we have seen from this disease.”

This comes as Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Thursday moved one step closer to getting approval for usage in the United States. An advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend the vaccine should it be given emergency authorization.

A similar vote will happen later this month for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna.

Arizona is expected to receive more than 383,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of December, according to the governor’s office. The first shipment is expected to arrive sometime next week.

As the state prepares to begin distributing the vaccine, a new poll raises concerns about how many people are willing to roll up their sleeves for it.

A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows about a quarter of adults in the U.S. are on the fence about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly another quarter say won’t get one.

Many of those who aren’t sure if they’ll get vaccinated have safety concerns, according to the poll.

Virk said she understands why some people are hesitant.

“They feel that the timeline was very rapid,” she said, adding that vaccine studies historically take years to be completed. “There are a couple reasons why it happened really fast and why it’s OK for us to understand that no shortcuts were taken.”

For example, she said vaccine trials usually have about 5,000 to 6,000 people participate. By comparison, enrollment for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials was about 74,000 combined.

“The reason why we have higher numbers … is that we have a pandemic going on and we have so many people who can and could enroll and hence we have this large number of people,” Virk said.

She added the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “have been studied with extensive rigor,” and they “have both been shown to be extremely effective in terms of preventing COVID-19 disease.”

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Mayo Clinic doctor urges Arizonans to get coronavirus vaccination