The Administrator of the Morgan County Health Department says he was skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccines at first until he did his research.
Over five billion doses of the COVID vaccine have now been administered worldwide, however vaccine hesitancy remains an issue for many.
Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says he had the same questions many others had as the vaccine was being developed, and was very hesitant himself.
““I thought, what is this new technology? And I had those same rumors coming to me about “it impacts your DNA, it changes your DNA”, and I was misinformed. I was running with the wrong information. I had many nights after work I sat with my immunization coordinator, shes my vaccine expert, I spoke with physicians I knew, I read reports, and it was something that I couldn’t stand up and tell my friends, my neighbors, my family to take, as well as my community until I believed in it. It had to be something that I was on board with and felt was safe before I could support it””
Bainter says his own skepticism of the vaccine at first is why he understands there are people out there who have those questions, and Health Department staff want to help answer those questions.
He says he does no believe in twisting someone’s arm or forcing them to take the vaccine, but he does think they should have the same opportunity for education and information that he had.
Bainter says he and his staff have heard the concerns such as “this is an experimental vaccine” or that “it was rushed through the process.” Bainter says research and the numbers prove those statements just aren’t true.
“This is a twenty-year-old technology that has been around for a very long time. It was adapted to be used to develop the COVID vaccine. It wasn’t a new technology, it was already existing, and the process was expedited but none of the steps were skipped, they were just combined at different times.
And now that we are over the five billion mark for cases of people being vaccinated, we have a better case history there than we’ve had at this stage of a vaccine ever. So the safety is there and it’s proven just in the sheer numbers with the lack of incidents of side effects.”
Bainter says the Delta variant has proven to be much more easily transmitted which is causing concern for health officials.
“As we see these mutations in the virus, and COVID continues to adapt, Delta being an example, there is a little bit of a race as we vaccinate. We want to vaccinate as many people as possible so that the virus doesn’t have someplace to go, or so that we can stop having severe illness. And the arguments there will be, well you can still get COVID if you’re vaccinated, yes but at a much lower incidence.
We don’t have nearly as high of an infection rate in vaccinated individuals so effectively we are slowing or trying to stop the spread, and if we run out of hosts for the virus, then we have effectively stopped its spread in our community.”
Bainter says that a complete stop of the spread is not very realistic with the levels of infection seen in this area, so slowing the spread is a better term. He says slowing the spread is what the community needs to continue living a level of normal and to protect the healthcare system.
Bainter says the Morgan County Health Department has seen a slight uptick in vaccinations this week since the Pfiser vaccine received full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.