One-on-one with Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) —  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our society.

New cases are surging as vaccines for the coronavirus begin distribution around the nation and our region. Eyewitness News spoke exclusively Tuesday to one of the nation’s leading experts on the pandemic.

Dr. Deborah Birx is the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. She tells Eyewitness News she is confident the vaccines will get the job done, but she insists that won’t happen overnight and advises Americans to continue to take COVID-19 safety measures.

Click the video box below to see the full interview with Dr. Birx.

We have seen images like this from all over the nation — COVID-19 vaccines being administered, mostly to frontline healthcare workers. Dr. Birx says the challenge here in Pennsylvania is making sure the vaccine is available to all frontline workers.

“It’s one thing to get the Pfizer vaccine to a large hospital and start immunizing the hospital workers. It’s another to get it to all communities across Pennsylvania to get it to the rural communities,” Dr. Birx said.

Eyewitness News asked her about concerns about a new strain of the coronavirus showing up in the United Kingdom.

“That strain right now is being studied by the vaccine manufacturers to make sure the immune response is generated by the vaccine. The vaccine is efficacious against that strain,” Dr. Birx said.

Dr. Birx says the first step in slowing the spread of COVID-19 is getting vaccinated.

“First and foremost we have to make sure Americans are vaccinated and I really appreciate Americans watching the science and data and understanding it’s safe and effective and coming forward to get the vaccine so we can protect those vulnerable Americans,” Dr. Birx said.

She once again urged people to take COVID-19 safety measures especially during the holiday season.

“We all need to step forward and get vaccinated when it’s our turn. That is the pathway to most normalcy as we can. But let’s remember on that pathway masks, physical distancing, washing our hands and more importantly not gathering past our immediate household during this critical time,” Dr. Birx said.

Dr. Birx insists now is not the time to let our guards down with COVID-19.

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