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The COVID Vaccine Is Here! And Everyone Has Questions.

By: 
Jocelyn Guggenheim

No matter what brings patients in to see me in the past 6 months we always end up having the same discussion. It comes at the end of the visit when all the other questions and concerns have been addressed. “What do you think about the COVID vaccine?”

And in the two past months, since the development of, as of today, two safe and effective vaccines authorized for use against COVID-19 in adults, my answer has been easier and easier to provide. I am ecstatic!

Inevitably there are other questions, about how it works, whether they should get it, when they can get it, and a variety of others. I often tell my patients that I enjoy these questions because they make me feel like I’m on Jeopardy (I never know what category is coming up next) and they push me to ensure I have as much information as I possibly can, about what we know and what we don’t know about these vaccines.

The answers to most frequently asked questions already exist in reliable, fact-based websites. I like these two a lot: from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and John’s Hopkins University. And it would be a waste of time here to re-write this excellent content. Click on the links here and try to avoid general Google searches (which will no doubt bring you to websites with fake content-making it hard to know what’s real and what’s not).

This blog would not be well served as another FAQ and, it’s not really what my patients and their families are asking when they ask me what I think about the vaccines. What they are really saying is “I know you, I trust you, what do YOU think about these vaccines?”

We know that primary care providers and other trusted medical professionals are by far the most reliable and relied upon sources of vaccine information for patients. Sure family, friends, and Facebook are important to lots of people. But, in a private exam room with the PCP who has sometimes known patients and their families for decades, people feel safe asking the questions about whether this vaccine is a good idea for them and them alone.

So, for this reason, I want to be sure it is clear: the medical staff at South Boston Community Health Center emphatically believe in the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA. In fact, we are lucky enough to have been vaccinated ourselves in the past few weeks.

Some of us fall into categories of patients who were not studied in the vaccine studies (pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people with immune conditions, just to name a few). We talked to our colleagues and our own PCPs when we had questions about those medical conditions. We read the studies and the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization Review Memorandums and we jumped at the chance to receive the vaccine ourselves.

We did this not only because we believe in this science, but because we know that any very small risk that comes with this or any other vaccine is nothing compared to the risks we have faced every day in battling this terrible virus, that is more contagious and out of control than ever before. We are grateful to have been in the first wave of those receiving the vaccine and we are excited to now be working hard to get all of our patients vaccinated.

So please, when you have questions, reach out to the medical providers you trust most. Stay off social media and websites whose content can’t be verified. Talk to us in the quiet, private exam rooms where we handle life’s biggest medical concerns. We are so happy to keep having these conversations with you.

Jocelyn Guggenheim

Jocelyn is a pediatric nurse practitioner as well as the Director of Clinical Operations and Director of the Pediatric Department at South Boston Community Health Center. She runs the New Moms Group and sees primary care patients from newborns to 21 years old in Pediatrics. Want to know more? Click here for more info or to schedule an appointment with her today!