Newsroom Common COVID-19 vaccine questions answered Posted by Randy Berger on Aug. 18, 2021 See the full Aug. 11 media briefing at this link.Aug. 11 media briefing update: 'The most horrifying moment of this disease'The current surge of COVID-19 patients has brought us to what President and CEO Steve Edwards calls “the most horrifying moment of this disease for our staff.”“Yesterday, we lost a 23-year-old young woman to this disease,” Edwards told local media at a news briefing on Aug. 11. “We have seen 35 deaths since last Tuesday and we are seeing 4-6 deaths per day.”“It is a somber reminder of the painful reality of this disease. Our staff grieves and feels pain along with families for their loss. Our staff will carry these losses, many of them will carry that grief the rest of their lives.”A few key statistics Edwards shared:Cox South is now using 5.3 million liters of oxygen per day. That number is five times greater than the amount used at this time last year.We started more than 700 patients on home oxygen in July 2021. In July of 2020, that number was 170These realities weigh heavily on all of us in health care, especially in the current wave, where those outcomes and loss of life could have been prevented.“Virtually all of the patients could have been saved with the vaccine. We are going to keep encouraging the community to get the vaccine. The time to get it is not when you are about to be intubated. The time is now,” Edwards told the group.Your 'Sobering Statistics' questions, answered In response to our ‘Sobering Statistics’ series, many have raised questions, about COVID-19 and vaccination.Dr. Robin Trotman addresses two of the most common ones below:Q: What is the latest we know about vaccine efficacy versus the delta variant?A: The vaccines still appear good to prevent severe disease. We do expect to see a drop in antibody levels over time, but right now, they are providing good protection.Q: What do we know about ivermectin? Is there any grain of truth to the popular belief that it can be used to treat COVID-19?A: Large, randomized placebo-controlled studies suggest that it does not help with preventing severe disease. Every day, we have people admitted with severe COVID pneumonia who were given ivermectin with and without azithromycin. In our experience, patients continue to get worse on this therapy and that is what the literature cited in the NIH guidelines reflect as well. This is the trend around the U.S., lots of people admitted with severe disease who took ivermectin instead of monoclonal antibodies and they get worse. There is very good evidence supporting monoclonal antibodies.Insight on myocarditis, side effects and natural immunity with Dr. Paul Offit We have also heard many general questions about the vaccines and the information that is circulating in social media.Dr. Trotman referenced a recent podcast that addresses many of these concerns. The episode is a conversation between Dr. Zubin Damania and vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit. You can watch the full discussion at this link (or listen anywhere you get podcasts). Find a transcript and show notes here: https://zdoggmd.com/paul-offit-liveHighlights on key questions answered by Dr. Offit:Q: What about the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine?A: Myocarditis risk from COVID-19 is one in 40. Myocarditis associated with the vaccine is roughly one per 20,000. So the vaccine is always the safer choice.The mRNA-containing vaccines are a rare cause of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, probably in the vicinity roughly one per 20,000 vaccines. Natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 also is a cause of myocarditis. There was a study done that was reported in JAMA looking at hundreds of athletes in the Big Ten Conference who symptomatic COVID. What they found was 2.5% of them had myocarditis –one in 40 people had myocarditis. Myocarditis associated with the vaccine is roughly one per 20,000.The virus itself causes myocarditis, we know that this post-infectious inflammatory syndrome is actually fairly common cause of myocarditis.Over the next few years, you're going to have two choices, which is to be vaccinated or be infected. The vaccine is always a better choice.Q: If you had a son, an 11-year-old or a 12-year-old boy, with no comorbidities, would you vaccinate him?A: In a second. Again, the vaccine is always a better choice. This is a bad virus. I mean, this virus is not what it was claimed to be. Originally, coming out of China, it was claimed to be a winter respiratory virus like flu, and like flu, it could cause severe and occasionally fatal pneumonia. This virus causes you to react, causes your immune system to react to the lining of your blood vessels, it causes vasculitis and because every organ system in your body has a blood supply, every organ system is at risk. And you are at risk for longer term problems. This is not the flu.Q: What about unknown risks with these vaccines? How likely is it that this vaccine has a long-term effect on sterility, autoimmunity, et cetera, that people have been proposing online without data sources or precedent?A: We're still waiting for that first vaccine that's shown to have a serious permanent or even fatal side effect beyond two months after the last dose is given. It hasn't happened. Smallpox vaccine can cause pericarditis or myocarditis. Some flu vaccines cause Guillain-Barre syndrome. The swine flu vaccine that was used in Europe, Pandemrix, in 2009, was found to be a rare cause of narcolepsy, which is a permanent disorder of wakefulness, all noticed within the first month after the vaccine. So, there exists yet not in the past 200 years an example of a vaccine causing long-term side effects.The clotting syndromes associated with the J&J or AstraZeneca vaccines, it means severe clotting problems in one in 500,000 people. Remember, roughly 16% of people with COVID-19 will have some evidence of clotting problems. The vaccines are not perfect, but the virus is worse.Q: To be clear, if you just allowed COVID to do its thing (without mass vaccination), the havoc numerically would be vastly higher than any side effect of vaccine if we vaccinated everyone, correct? A: Absolutely. With any vaccine that comes out (people say) we don't know enough, we don't have 10 years of data, we don't have 30 years of data. We never quite know enough. And, the fact of the matter is, you never know everything. The question is: when do you know enough to say that the vaccine is much more likely to do good than harm, and then you pull the trigger, and that's what happened here. That was the right choice moving forward because the side effects are far, far less frequent than the benefits of getting the vaccine.Q: Should you get vaccinated if you have had COVID-19 and recovered?A: There is no downside to getting vaccinated. Vaccination is safe and it boosts your immunity and probably gives you longer-lasting immunity. If you've been naturally infected, you very likely are protected against the kinds of diseases that cause you to be hospitalized. I think that's true. If you've been naturally infected, and you get a dose of mRNA vaccine -- and there's now a few studies that have shown this -- you act as if you've got your second dose. You get a clear booster response. I really wish we could come up with a term different than natural immunity. The term "natural" just sounds good. Mother Nature has a great PR team, because she has been trying to kill us ever since we crawled out of the ocean onto the land. Realize that the price you pay for "natural immunity" is more than 600,000 people have died from this infection.Q: What role does personal choice play in vaccination?A: People say, "I respect personal choice." But I wonder, "What are they talking about?" These are not just personal decisions. Here is an example: A friend of mine has a relative, a man who chose not to get a COVID vaccine, so he gets COVID. He then proceeds to infect his pregnant wife, who, because she's pregnant and has increased risk of disease, gets admitted to the hospital, then she gets admitted to the ICU, and she gets put on a ventilator where she proceeds to deliver her baby prematurely.So, he didn't just make a decision for himself. He made a decision for his wife and for his unborn child. These aren't personal decisions. My decision of whether to get a tetanus vaccine, that is a personal decision because no one is going to catch tetanus from me. But, that's not true here, it's not a personal decision.