According to the state health department, over 270,000 Tennesseans have been vaccinated, but a fear of vaccines still remains.
Upper Cumberland Medical Society Member Dr. James Gray said those worried should not be. Gray said evidence supports that it is safer to be vaccinated then to risk contracting COVID.
“I have not seen any reliable source of information which should justify fear in taking the vaccine,” Gray said. “The vaccine roll out in the Upper Cumberland region demonstrates the vaccine’s remarkable safety, so far.”
Gray said many of these fears have spawned from social media but are unfounded. Gray said vaccinations do not carry live strains of the virus.
“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines we are using here are not live viruses and can not cause disease on their own,” Gray said. “They are made synthetically in a laboratory, and they do not involve tissue culture. So, I really don’t know any rational reason to fear these new vaccines.”
Gray said he would describe the way the vaccine works as a key with a covering preventing it from entering a key hole.
“The virus has these spikes that is like a key to get into the cell,” Gray said. “The antibodies basically block that so the virus can not put its key in the door, and it can’t get into the body. I don’t know how in the world anybody could be afraid of taking something that is so simplistic and free of risk.”
Gray said the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines represent a major medical breakthrough with education being the the best way to overcome fear.
“Those fears are unfounded based on the incredible response worldwide in the developing and testing of vaccines and the sciences found,” Gray said. “The people that fear it have not looked at the science. It is just amazing how the world came together to create these vaccines. It wasn’t done by any one person.”
Each vaccination has gone through the appropriate phases of testing, according to Gray. First, the doses passed animal testing. Then, phase one of human trials began with a controlled population of healthy volunteers. In phase two, a few thousand volunteers were selected to match the American population.
Gray said the final phase is meant to prove the vaccine stops the spread of COVID. Gray said this has become impossible with mass spread already happening.
“Phase three trials would require hundreds of thousands of volunteers and many months to complete all the studies, because it is to answer questions that can’t be answered without serious amount of time. This virus was just now known until just a year ago and really wasn’t known in the Upper Cumberland until March of last year, and the vaccine has only been known for just a few weeks. So obviously, there has not been time to get all this data in.”
Gray said FDA emergency use of vaccines was approved since human testings found the vaccine safe, but long term questions of how long immunity lasts will have to be answered later.