Local doctor weighs in on safety of COVID vaccine

WWNY Local doctor weighs in on safety of COVID vaccine

TOWN OF ADAMS, N.Y. (WWNY) - As 2 drug manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, get closer to finalizing a COVID-19 vaccine, many are asking if it was rushed and is it safe.

“We are so close to having a chance to eradicate this virus, it would be such a tragedy if we didn’t seize this moment,” said Dr. Joseph Wetterhahn, medical director of the Samaritan Family Health Network.

While he’s aware of the public’s skepticism over the pending COVID-19 vaccinations, he says people can trust the science.

“This does not use a live virus, it uses no part of a live virus. It’s impossible to get COVID from this vaccine,” said Dr. Wetterhahn. “When a vaccine is distributed, there will be some pretty intensive safety monitoring that’s going to take place.”

When a vaccine is approved by the FDA, when will it be available to New Yorkers? Governor Cuomo says after a state panel has reviewed the approval process and can safely say it was not rushed for political purposes.

That has made for political tension between the governor and president.

“It has to be done because half the American people are saying they don’t trust the approval process. Who’s gonna put a needle in their arm if they don’t trust the approval process,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“He doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration. So we won’t be delivering to New York until we have authorization to do so,” said President Trump.

But what does a local expert think?

“There was temptation to politicize the vaccination process, which I believe the manufacturers themselves did a good job of pushing back against,” said Dr. Wetterhahn.

In Dr. Wetterhahn’s opinion, we should instead worry about getting everyone to get the vaccination.

“Experts think you need about a 70 percent immunity rate. Both vaccines have about a 90 percent efficacy. So if you do that math, 80 percent of Americans need to get this vaccine or else this virus will linger,” he said.

Dr. Wetterhahn thinks the vaccine will go to high-risk Americans by the end of the year and the general public early next year.

He says if everyone vaccinates and keeps up on sanitization and mask wearing, “We have the potential by this summer to have things back to normal.”

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