Lehigh Valley Health Network Inc.

05/07/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/07/2021 13:46

There’s little room for skepticism with COVID-19 vaccine, our lives are on the line

I am an African American man and I had open-heart surgery four years ago. My risk for becoming severely ill with COVID-19 is high, and that scares me. I am first in line to receive a COVID-19 test every week at work, and you won't see me without a mask on my face.

I have worked at LVHN for 18 years and my job has never felt more intense than it has since the beginning of March. It's been a long, exhausting 10 months.

I cheered when I learned it was my turn to be vaccinated as LVHN received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine under U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and last week, I felt great after receiving my second and final dose.

I never had a second thought about getting this vaccine, but I can't say the same about my family, friends and community.

According to Pew Research, just 42 percent of African Americans say they would receive the vaccine, even though we are at an increased risk for getting sick and dying from COVID-19 compared to white Americans.

For those who say they'll never get it, I say there's little room for being skeptical of the science when the health of you and your loved ones is at risk.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that Black or African American people are nearly four times as likely to be hospitalized and three times as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white, non-Hispanic people.

For any drug to be approved, it must go through the same 3-4-phases of clinical trials, and a COVID-19 vaccine is no different. While administrative aspects of the trial, production of the vaccine and distribution were expedited, data shows that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Moderna's vaccine received EUA after showing that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective.

Personally, I can't believe I'm lucky enough to have received the vaccine already. And, I hope I can be an example for anyone who has doubts about getting the vaccine themselves.

You will hear that some people experience more noticeable side effects after their second dose than they did after their first dose, which is normal and can be expected in some vaccine recipients. For those who might use potential side effects as a reason not to get the vaccine, think about the alternative. I know COVID-19 will kill me before any vaccine will, so I wasn't worried about side effects. I was ready for anything but only experienced soreness at the injection site for a few days after receiving each dose of the vaccine. To my community, I ask that you please do your research, talk to your health care provider and I urge you to get the vaccine when it's available to you.

The fight is ongoing. Even now that I received the vaccine, I won't let my guard down. At all. We will get through this, but only if we all do our part.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines including FAQs and myth buster videos, visit LVHN.org/vaccines.