Health Scene Magazine

Health Scene MagazineOvercoming Vaccine Hesitancy

The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has begun. This is the most ambitious and important public health campaign in a generation. Successful vaccination of the population is going to be critical to controlling COVID-19 far into the future.

Despite the monumental scientific achievements that these vaccines represent, there remains skepticism about the need for vaccines among a segment of the general population.

This is troubling, because for generations, vaccines have protected us all across the globe, and have played a dominant role in greatly diminishing and eradicating some of our deadliest diseases. I have an aunt who is afflicted with the long term consequences of polio, a disease caused by a virus that has nearly been eradicated from the face of the earth through vaccination. Unfortunately, she contracted the illness just prior to the introduction of polio vaccination in the United States in the 1950's.

Vaccines contain ingredients that help your body build immunity against a specific virus. However, not all vaccines have the same ingredients. For example, Pfizer and Moderna have produced a newer type of vaccine, called mRNA vaccines.

Unlike other vaccines, they use messenger RNA (mRNA), which instructs cells to make a harmless piece of the virus' genetic material called the spike protein. This teaches the immune system to recognize and fight the real virus. But because the vaccine doesn't contain any live virus, there's no way it can give you COVID-19.

The vaccine's mRNA does not stay in the body, and it cannot change your DNA. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines also do not have thimerosal, mercury, formaldehyde, eggs, latex or antibiotics.

Some side effects have occurred with COVID-19 vaccines. Most are minor, like a sore arm. More serious allergic reactions are very rare. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their obstetrician prior to taking the vaccine. If you have a history of allergic reactions, or other chronic health conditions, you should speak with your doctor before getting vaccinated as well.

When you are able, I encourage you to join the many tens of millions of Americans who have already been vaccinated against COVID -19! Stay in the know by calling our COVID-19 hotline at 863-680-7358 or visiting our website at
Yours in good health,
Steven G. Achinger, MD, FASN
Watson Clinic Managing Partner
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