This year of 2020 has surprised us in many unpredictable ways. The COVID-19 vaccine on top of the media headlines looks like the final ingredient of an intense mix of events that we are about to consume.

Is it safe? Will it end the pandemic? With so many questions and concerns coming along the way, Pissed Consumer decided to step in and seek answers. We have interviewed doctors and healthcare experts about COVID-19 vaccine safety and finalized their observations in this article.

Here you’ll uncover explanations and quotes about COVID-19 vaccines brought up by the healthcare industry specialists.

Health Experts Interviewed by Pissed Consumer:

Photo with health experts

Dr. Carole Lieberman Doctor of Medicine, Emmy-Honored Media Psychiatrist, a Forensic Psychiatrist and Expert Witness for over 20 years.

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole Professor of Biomedical Science, Associate Dean for Research, Immunologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani Professor of Public Health at New Mexico State University.  Dr. Khubchandani also served as an elected Director of the World Association of Medical Editors.

Pr. Sanket Shah Clinical Assistant Professor for Biomedical and Health Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Joan Melendez UDI Expert and Senior Consultant with broad expertise in Healthcare EHR apps, a passionate advocate for the safety of patients and healthcare innovation.

Key COVID-19 Vaccine Questions Answered: 

How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Change the Healthcare System?

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

It exposed the greatest weakness of healthcare systems around the world with a focus on the US. Despite the highest healthcare expenditure in the world, the US had the highest deaths and cases of COVID. In part, it tells us that ‘healthcare’ does not equate to or mean ‘health’.

Also, what we found worldwide that public health infrastructure and funding were a low priority before the pandemic, causing disastrous outcomes worldwide. Worldwide and particularly, in the US, we focus on medical care models looking at cost, access, and quality of healthcare, but there is little emphasis on prevention (which is reflected in poor testing rates and local health agencies running short of essential supplies).

How Do COVID-19 Vaccines Work?

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

I understand the process as this is a new way to make vaccines – mRNA technology and platforms. Traditional vaccines involved inoculating people with attenuated viruses and germs. For COVID-19 only a part of the virus is being used (i.e genetic code) to induce immune responses. That's why it was made fast and has such high efficacy based on early evidence.

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist

…a lot of the vaccines that the population gets over the years are two doses. That's because what happens is your immune system has what we call memory. It recognizes when it has seen something before so that even though each year we get a new flu vaccine, our bodies still have some immunologic memory…

So that first dose primes the immune system to enable it to have immunologic memory... The booster dose, which occurs about three weeks later, then uses that immunologic memory and boosts your immune system dramatically.

So at the end of that, about a 30-day period, you've reached that optimal immunity, the optimal protection there. Although the data is still not conclusive on how long that immunity will last.

The most recent information that I saw is that, I don't know if it was Pfizer or Moderna, has shown the protective antibodies still exist at least three months after the vaccination.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist
The FDA, and why it took them a bit longer, actually goes into the raw data provided. The companies have provided them all the data on every patient that has been vaccinated, whether they got the placebo or the vaccine, all of the clinical data, all of the side effect data, all the outcome data.

Joan Melendez, the UDI Expert and Senior Consultant

The vaccines currently being produced are deemed safe for general public use. However, that does not mean they are without risk. The Covid-19 vaccines require multiple doses to be effective, and we are still unclear of short and long-term effects. It’s also not entirely clear whether or not either of the vaccines will prove ineffective in protecting individuals from contracting the virus. 

Additional concerns are around allergic reactions to either the vaccine contents or the vial packaging. Since there are multiple doses within each vial, a stopper is placed on the top of an opened vial so the contents can be retrieved with a syringe, but the stopper could include latex or other components that could cause allergic reactions. 

The Pfizer vaccine requires a diluent which is not produced or provided by Pfizer. It is impossible for patients or healthcare staff to know when or if the diluent has been recalled.  Additionally, it is unclear how adverse events are reported after leaving the immunization clinic. 

Pr. Sanket Shah, Clinical Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Health Information Sciences

Vaccines generally take years of clinical trials and thorough longitudinal studies before it is released to the public. In this case, most do not understand that the novel coronavirus has been studied for many years through various related forms and similar sequences.

Viruses such as SARS and MERS have been researched for multiple years giving our scientific community a good amount of data and research to start with. This, coupled with advances in technology and increased funding has expedited the release in record time.

Are There Any Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine?

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

The short term study of side effects shows few side effects and even fewer serious side effects (that are not life-threatening). Injection site-related pain and discomfort to systemic side effects have been reported. I don’t think there are many major impacts on the human body compared to the seasonal flu vaccine, but we must wait for long term studies as well.

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist
...there's a subset of the population that after that first vaccine dose, they're going to have a sore arm. They may have a little bit of a fever. They may feel lethargic for about 24 hours. And with the second dose, it may be even a little bit more than that, but it'll still be short-lived.

Basically, that reaction is your body telling you that I'm responding to this challenge, this vaccine challenge. So while you may not feel great, your body is telling you that it's doing what it's supposed to do.

… potentially 40% of the population that is out there with this vaccine may get a little bit of this type of side effect… So they need to accept that. It happens with the flu. That's not an uncommon thing, and that will occur in individuals. We don't have any way of predicting that ahead of time.

So if you get it, you may have a side effect and I'll have none at all. That doesn't mean it's not working, but we just can't predict that.

Pros and Cons of Taking a COVID-19 Vaccine

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

Cheap to produce but difficult to distribute for some of these vaccines as they require very cold storage. Also, public confidence is not 100% so a lot depends on how we go from here. Vaccine making has a scientific side, the legal side, commercial side, and finally a social aspect- we must work a lot on social aspects now given all the myths and conspiracy theories. In addition, continued dissemination of safety and efficacy data with more trials is also needed.

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist

This vaccine for COVID is also helping to protect your community, your family, your neighbors. So as people are considering, yeah, someone has to be first in line, but we need to rapidly move towards a large portion of the population, maybe 70% or so the population that is immune to this virus to finally move us back to a more normal situation across the globe.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, Doctor of Medicine

Now the COVID vaccines… They may well be good. Again, I’m not telling anybody not to take them but I am saying you have to inform yourself about them. What is really scary is that there are now going to be immunity cards. Everybody is going to get an immunity card or an immunity passport. And that is going to keep your information, just like kids have, you know for the measles, and so on, where you write down what vaccines you’ve done. Because if some of these vaccines you need more than once, so it’s to help you keep track of where you are with that. But the information isn’t private. It’s not just with your doctor. 

These vaccines, where you take them, when you take them, what you take, are going to be communicated to the government. And so, there’s one thing you’re told to wear a mask or to be six feet apart, but it’s another thing to be told you have to take a vaccine because that’s something that is put into your body. That is sort of a final frontier.

And so, if we allow the government to tell us that we need to put things into our body, and God knows what’s in those vaccines… then the freedom is gone. Our choice is gone. And yes the coronavirus is horrible, COVID is horrible. The percentage of people who die from COVID, however, is still lower than you would think.

What’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy?

Pr. Sanket Shah, Clinical Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Health Information Sciences

The COVID-19 vaccine will be the largest vaccination distribution in American history. The distribution strategy is in place, but there will certainly be some areas for improvement as we learn how the initial roll out fares. The plan, which is overseen by the federal government and also includes the CDC and FDA, will start in a staggered fashion. Certain sites across the US will get a first wave, other sites in the days that follow, and so on. The first individuals eligible for the vaccine will be those that are front line workers and nursing home residents.

Who and When Should Be First to Take the COVID Vaccine?

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

Healthcare workers should be first (and stratify these by those who are involved in patient care, covid treatment, support staff, allied health, etc, etc). Next, we should prioritize the elderly and those with chronic diseases.

Where Should Consumers Address Their Concerns Regarding Vaccines?

Joan Melendez, the UDI Expert and Senior Consultant

Although there are many ways to report concerns with vaccines, such as the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), a vaccine safety surveillance system administered by the CDC, it is unclear if this system will also be used specifically for Covid-19. 

The CDC is supposed to introduce a new application called V-SAFE, a smartphone-based, acter-vaccination health checker for people who receive the Covid-19 vaccine, but public education about this is still largely unknown. In addition, there are several other applications with the same name that may ultimately cause consumer confusion.

Most individuals will rely on their local doctor or medical facility who administered their vaccines, as they will likely return for treatment should they experience side effects or other issues. The risk of relying on medical staff to report adverse events is that there’s no guarantee that reported information is actually related back to the appropriate agency. 

Ultimately, this leaves a lot of room for public skepticism not only in the efficacy of the vaccine but in the overall management of the healthcare provided to patients who are seeking protection from the virus. 

What Issues or Misconceptions May Prevent Consumers from Taking COVID-19 Vaccines?

Pr. Sanket Shah, Clinical Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Health Information Sciences

The biggest issue or misconception is somehow the vaccine will cause extreme side effects similar to that out of a Hollywood movie. The vaccine will not turn you into a zombie or cause body deformations. Individuals simply do not "trust" the vaccine because of its rapid development and deployment.

Joan Melendez, the UDI Expert and Senior Consultant

There have been concerns that the vaccine has been rushed, hasn’t been tested enough, concern around multiple manufacturers, and that there could be adverse or allergic reactions that are unknown at this time.

What we do know is that independent expert groups, such as the Data & Safety Monitoring Board and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have reviewed vaccine data to make recommendations about its efficacy and use with the general public. 

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist

…we have folks that either don't believe or are unwilling to accept the science that says that this is going to work.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, Doctor of Medicine

Things about coronavirus, COVID, the mandates that have come down, a lot of people are confused about what to do, we’re scared, we’re confused, we’re angry, we’re frustrated, and I’m particularly frustrated about some of the advice that has been coming down and have been stressing people out more than helping them.

Will COVID-19 Vaccine End the Pandemic?

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a Professor of Public Health at NMSU

It depends on how we define end (i.e. political, social, scientific – for many people the pandemic did not exist and many are already going out and living a normal life. Politicians also have indicated their own trends for an end). A real scientific end would be when COVID-19 becomes like a seasonal flu with mortality rates lower than what we see now, but comparable to seasonal flu. So, COVID-19 can help end the dire and severe nature of the pandemic in some sense.

Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, a UNLV Immunologist

We're in this same mix. And what we're doing here is as much as we can to help protect the public. If the public doesn't adopt the behavior of accepting the vaccine, I'm affected, you're affected just like all the other folks. If 50% of the population doesn't get vaccinated, we're going to be in this for a very long haul. This vaccine will protect you as an individual, but by getting it, you will help protect your community and move us along.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 vaccine is a very controversial subject, and the public response to it varies from acceptance to opposition. We thank our experts for answering these top COVID-19 vaccines questions. We hope their expert answers helped you better understand the topic or at least brought up some helpful insights.

Whether or not the COVID vaccination will end the pandemic is still uncertain. However, it is highly advised that you do your due diligence, analyze all pros and cons, and get health recommendations from medical experts and doctors you trust before making your choice.

For more expert tips and useful insights, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

  • coronavirus
  • coronavirus vaccine
  • COVID-19
  • covid-19 expert tips
  • covid-19 vaccine pros and cons
  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • covie-19 vaccine faqs
  • expert opinion
  • is covid-19 vaccine safe

Legal disclaimers:

1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.

2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.