Doctors say getting a COVID-19 vaccine safer than banking on natural immunity

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FILE – In this July 27, 2020, file photo, Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Many of us may have different reasons for being worried about a COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors say people are best served getting it rather than hoping natural immunity will serve them better. That’s a message from doctors as well as people who’ve had the virus.

The United States could be days away from a COVID-19 vaccine Monday. With more than 280,000 Americans who have died as a result of the virus, doctors say getting the vaccine will mean more protection.

Americans have seen empty grocery store shelves, shutdowns and masks, as almost 15 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 in 2020.

Lian Piacone can’t wait for a vaccine.

“I think it’s just for like the safety of others to get it, and, also, I just wanna get this over with,” Piacone said. “There is no need for this to be a problem anymore.”

With Moderna and Pfizer vaccines on the horizon, many are ready to get back to how life was before the pandemic.

“I would get the vaccine,” Gary Maderi said. “Even though it is coming quickly, it’s good.”

Maderi says his decision making might have differed had he been younger during the pandemic.

“It depends on what cohort you fit into,” Maderi said. “The cohort that I am in, it is definitely better to get the vaccine than it is to ride it out. If I were 25 and instead of the age I’m at, I might think about riding it out.”

Robert Hawkes, the director of FGCU’s physician assistant program, does not support the notion of natural immunity to COVID-19 over a vaccine.

“No. Because we know that people have been getting COVID-19 two and three times, so you can get it once, and your body will build some antibodies, but because there are different strains, you can get it a second and third time,” Hawkes said. “So that does not give you extra protection.”

Hawkes says the vaccine is definitely the safer option.

“It is using kind of a deactivated version of the virus, so it is going to be much safer,” Hawkes said. “While it might be some side effects from it, it will not be as significant as getting COVID-19 itself.”

Hawkes adds we don’t know how COVID-19 affects us personally and the others we might spread it to.

Piacone isn’t willing to take the risk.

“Definitely the vaccine,” Piacone said. “You don’t want to risk yourself getting the disease.”

It’s clear many people are ready to get one of the expected vaccines, but neither are FDA approved. Pfizer and Moderna asked for emergency use authorization, and the FDA will discuss vaccines Thursday.

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