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GET YOUR SHOT: Mayo experts hope more get vaccinated to help end pandemic

Medical staff prepares vaccine dose

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- With less than 30 percent of the nation fully vaccinated, many in the medical field are concerned and reaching out to those who have yet to get a shot.

"If I could wave a wand and get everyone in the world immunized today, we would not even need to discuss it. It would be off the table. Coronavirus would be a historical issue," said Dr. Gregory Poland, Mayo Clinic vaccine research director.

Yet many worldwide do not even have access to a vaccine.

"Travel can very quickly bring a new variant from one part of the world to another, but we also know that some of these variants are already showing up in some parts of the country," said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, Mayo Clinic pathologist.

However, a lot of myths about the vaccines remain. Because of them, many people across the country do not want to get their shots.

Mayo Clinic's Dr. Gregory Poland says some have been denying science from the start of the pandemic.

"One out of every 560 Americans in dead of a virus we know how to prevent with a 25 cent mask," Poland said.

Others just have questions. Health experts hope to dispell some misinformation people might have heard.

"There is no such thing as a vaccine side effect that takes years to develop," Poland clarifies. "That's just never been observed."

There has also been the concern the vaccine was developed in a hurry. Scientists say the research has been around for years.

"They're certainly not new to physicians and scientists. They were developed for SARS-CoV-1 in 2003," Poland said. "Why do you think 98 percent of physicians took it immediately? Do you know something they don't know?"

What he does want people to know is while the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, the risk from it is less than that of the virus itself. He uses the blood clot side effect from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as an example.

"That risk is about 1 to 2 per million, somewhere in that setting. If you get COVID and are admitted to the hospital, we're talking about 2 to 4 per 10," he said. "Which risk do you want?"

Pharmacists also pointing out many drugs people are familiar with are more risky.

"For penicillin, 5 to 10 people in a million have anaphylaxis, which is more than the COVID 19 vaccine," said Perry Sweeten, Mayo Clinic Health System director of pharmacy for southwest Minnesota.

This is why health experts unanimously agree you should roll up your sleeve or talk to your physician if you still have questions.

"Your turn is now. The doors are open," Sweeten said. "Come on in. We're ready to serve."

Mayo experts also note another concerning trend nationwide. Around 8 percent of those vaccinated with a first dose are not coming back for a second dose.

Sweeten says he has seen less of this in southern Minnesota but stresses the importance of that second shot for greater protection from COVID-19.

Alex Tejada

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