UVA Health doctors answer questions about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, importance during town hall

UVA Health doctors answer questions about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, importance during town hall

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Scientists and doctors from around the country answered questions about the coronavirus vaccine as a part of a COVID-19 Vaccine Education Town Hall series hosted by the American Society for Virology.

On Tuesday night, two University of Virginia doctors got a chance to share their expertise. As more Virginians are on the verge of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, UVA Health Drs. Dan Engel and Ebony Hilton took the time to answer questions to help people make informed decisions.

At the Zoom Town Hall, there were questions from dozens of participants, the topics ranging from efficacy, to equity, and skepticism.

Hilton says while there was lots of focus on distrust from Black Americans early in the rollout, new data shows many white Americans are hesitant. White deaths from COVID-19 have hit record highs.

“If 58,000 [white Americans] died within four weeks, maybe that’ll help sway my decision in this risk-benefit ratio of getting this vaccine or not,” Hilton said, predicting the ways some would think after learning about the data.

The doctors say the rising numbers aren’t the only reason getting your shot is important. New variants play a role too.

“The science is saying: if everyone gets vaccinated who can get vaccinated,” Engel said, “the closer that we get to herd immunity, the fewer variants that are going to come out.”

There were questions about how long antibodies from the vaccine last in your body. The doctors say they still don’t know, but we’re at the six-month mark since clinical trials and there’s cause for optimism.

“We’re getting data that the vaccine immunity is stable for at least 6 months, which is really good news,” Engel said. “But as any physician or scientist is going to tell you, we have to wait for the data.”

They say all three available vaccines are good at preventing severe COVID-19 and that getting a shot is the best way to keep everyone safe.

“Reaching that herd immunity where we allow that virus to be snuffed out, for lack of a better word, from being able to be circulated from person to person, is going to be our best bet at getting back to normal and keeping ourselves alive to see 2022,” Hilton said.

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