Norfolk doctor addresses COVID-19 vaccine concerns

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 3:26 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 17:51:42-05

NORFOLK, Va. – While many are making history and receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, some are hesitant.

Dr. Michael Charles, Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness for Sentara Medical Group, says he wants the public to educate themselves on the vaccine.

“Really, this has turned out to be a very effective vaccine and a very safe vaccine when you look at it, overall, with the numbers,” said Dr. Charles. He added, “What we’ve seen with the vaccine so far - as far as you know, allergic reactions, side effects - the benefits that the vaccine is going to give us on top of the dangers of the disease, it far outweighs [it].”

Dr. Charles said there are a lot of myths about the COVID-19 vaccines. He addressed a couple of them: The first is that this new vaccine can change one’s DNA.

“The DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell. The messenger RNA never makes it into the nucleus of the cell, so it can’t modify or alter your DNA.”

Charles said women concerned about fertility should talk with their doctor; however, he wanted to dispel a myth about pregnancy and the vaccine.

He explained, “If these antibodies were going to attack the placenta, we would have seen our fertility rates in the United States and across the world drop over the last nine months, and we haven’t seen that.”

Regarding side effects, most of what’s being reported are ones commonly seen with other vaccinations: Soreness or swelling at the injection site, mild fever or headache. Charles said it could be more noticeable after the second dose.

“The whole purpose is to ramp up your body’s immune system so it can fight off the COVID,” he added. “And in doing so, you get these side effects.”

Dr. Charles does recommend that if anyone has had severe allergic reactions of any kind in the past, they talk with their doctor before getting the shot. Also, if someone’s aware of past allergies, it’s prudent to wait 30 minutes after getting the COVID-19 vaccination before leaving the medically-staffed location.

For those with autoimmune diseases, he said they should especially consider getting the vaccine.

“What if I do have an autoimmune disease; if I have rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease; if I’m on an immune-suppressant drug... should I get this vaccine? And the recommendations are actually, yes, to get it, because this population of patients is more likely to get COVID in the severe state or even die from COVID.”

Related: COVID-19 survivor from Chesapeake still hesitant about vaccine; local doctors address concerns

Charles said one thing that might be helpful is taking the day off work after getting vaccinated. He also explained that you can take pain relievers after getting the shot, but it’s not recommended beforehand.

For more information, click here for the CDC website.

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