Vaccine hesitancy holding U.S. back from reaching herd immunity

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Vaccine hesitancy is blamed, in part, on delaying the U.S. from reaching its goal of herd immunity.

About 38 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated so far against COVID-19. The figure needs to be about 70 percent to achieve herd immunity. But some people are taking a “wait and see” approach which may be holding back the country from hitting that mark.

Now, the nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is trying to encourage those taking a “wait and see” approach to get vaccinated.

“I think we do have some people left right now that are still, you know, kind of questioning whether or not it’s worth getting the vaccine, what the side effects are. I think we just have to keep answering those questions,” Atul Grover, MD, Ph.D., Research & Action Institute Executive Director at AAMC told Eyewitness News.

Grover blames some vaccine hesitancy because of a particularly rare blood clot linked to the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine which triggered the vaccine’s temporary pause in April.

“The concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine I think were really in a limited population, very, very small incidence and we’ve managed to figure out how to prioritize other vaccines for those that might be at a slightly elevated risk,” he said.

Grover considers both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s double dose vaccines extremely safe.

“Even things like allergic reactions, being you know in the single digits out of every million people vaccinated so we know they’re safe. We know they’re incredibly effective,” he said.

Side effects are temporary with Moderna and Pfizer. The first shot triggers mostly a sore arm for a day or so. Second dose symptoms, including aches and chills and even a low-grade fever, are a bit more likely for a day or so.

“It means your body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It is actively fighting what it thinks is a virus but really producing anitbodies to a harmless protein,” Grover said.

As evidence by the guitar in his background, Dr. Grover is more than a man of medicine. He uses his love of music to encourage others to overcome their vaccine hesitancy.

If you’re still vaccine hesitant, he recommends visiting vaccinewise.org which may answer your questions. Geisinger Centerpoint will be holding a walk-in vaccination clinic for those who are interested.

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