Friday, January 15, 2021

"GET THE SHOT!" - Taking the Covid Vaccine (part 1)

NYCRA NEWS and PREVENTION101 continues its mission to share the viewpoints of experts, renowned educators and health advocates in the spirit of expanding public knowledge. For this series, we connect with healthcare worker Dr. Michael Schulder, a leading Northwell Health neurosurgeon in Manhasset, NY.  He is one of the first to share his insights and his personal research on the safety and efficacy of the recently deployed Coronavirus vaccine.  Dr. Schulder also addresses his views on public skepticism about the vaccine over some of the unknown factors of the coronavirus.  He shares his confidence in the science and the preventive strategy of the vaccine as well as its social impact on the global stage.



VACCINE CONFIDENCE FROM A HEALTHCARE WORKER
Transcript by: Dr. Michael Schulder

As of now, there has been no requirement to take the Coronavirus vaccination.   I chose to “get the shot” because it is my belief that you can't practice any kind of medicine (neurosurgery included) if there's not some element of trust in the peer review process (or) in the general research process.  This process has been overseen by academic organizations and by governmental organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So we need to accept this as a baseline allowing for the fact that though human errors may occur, those errors tend to flatten out over the course of large studies that involve a much larger number of people. That's what makes those results credible. 

When vaccine trial results had been reported, it involved tens of thousands of people over months, clearly reporting no major side-effects. I believe the randomization to these trials was done on a 2:1 basis, where two thirds or of people got the vaccine. If there were going to be major safety concerns, we would've known about it for sure, because it would have happened during these trials. This is equally true if the randomization was 1:1.

The underlying science of the messenger RNA (or mRNA) based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna is understandable and makes sense. The descriptions of the safety of the vaccines are credible and I'm relying on all those things for safety. Regarding efficacy, it is natural to have some skepticism because the idea of a 90- 95% infection prevention rate sounded too good to be true. Many of my colleagues and I have many curbside conversations about this sort of thing. If it was going to be as good as the flu vaccine, meaning an est. 70% infection prevention rate, that's still pretty darn good, especially if societally, it gets us ultimately to herd immunity. Either way, this is really why I and many people who work in my field signed up to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN- AND WHAT IT DOESN’T MEAN TO BE VACCINATED?
Yes, you still need to mask up and social distance! The vaccine is not an invisible shield -- and it's only part of the ongoing process that we need to do to finally suppress the virus and get out of the pandemic. Even if it is 95% efficacious, it's still not enough... it's still 5% non-efficacious.  Antibacterial antibiotics don't work 100% of the time. If you're one of those 95 out of a hundred people for whom it's going to be effective, you won't get infected or develop the COVID-19 illness. But nobody wants to be in that 5%.

What we don't know is whether you can still transmit the virus; that's still an unknown.  But in advance of you getting vaccinated, we don't know if you're going to be one of the people who still gets infected despite the vaccine.  Our societal goal is not to use the virus to prevent infection in everybody. It's to create herd immunity like the smallpox, polio and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines that have made those illnesses no longer a public health threat to the general population -- (and) get us to the point of eradicating it. The CDC states that “the goal is to make coronavirus like the common cold… it'll be around… you might get some seasonal illness from it, but it won't be a pandemic”--  and it won't be life-threatening in the way that it has been over the last 10 months.

I posted my message in social media in response to the many billions worldwide currently affected by this virus socially, economically and physically.  I urge my colleagues to get vaccinated and to get the word out there that it's safe and it's effective and everyone should do it ASAP.





Michael Schulder, MD, is vice chair of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is director of the Brain Tumor Center at Northwell Health's Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery, co-director of the Center for Stereotactic Radiosurgery and program director of neurosurgical residency training at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, where he is a professor of neurosurgery. A practicing neurosurgeon for more than 30 years, Dr. Schulder is expert in a full range of brain surgery techniques. His particular areas of focus include image-guided brain tumor surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery and functional neurosurgery.



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