Doctors say more than 70-percent of people need to get COVID-19 vaccine for community protection

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Scientists and doctors say even with a vaccine expected to come out, it will be some time before the pandemic is over. They say the vast majority of people need to be vaccinated before enough protection is developed within communities.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, a group of independent experts will advise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration whether an Emergency Use Authorization on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine should be approved.

Doctors say anywhere from 70 to 90-percent of people need to be vaccinated before people are able to let their guards down.

“What it does is it protects those who aren’t vaccinated, so we would like to see 75 to 85-percent of the population vaccinated, because right now everybody is susceptible,” said Dr. Laura Cassidy, an epidemiologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Doctors say getting to a point where more than 70-percent of people are vaccinated will take time, with a number of hurdles to tackle.

“The vaccine availability, which will take a little bit of time, but the other hurdle is the desire by the public to get vaccinated and the infrastructure that has to be in place for people to go somewhere and get the vaccine,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director for infection prevention at UW-Health.

Dr. Laura Cassidy says only 40 to 45-percent of eligible Wisconsinites get the flu vaccine, which is only 50-percent effective. She says while the COVID-19 vaccine is 95-percent effective, people will still need to remain vigilant, because doctors say it requires two doses, three weeks apart.

“Five percent of the people may still get sick and spread it and not know, we also don’t know who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t, and we also don’t know how long immunity lasts,” Dr. Cassidy says.

“It takes about two weeks and you’ll get some protection from the first dose, but it’s really important to take both doses,” said Dr. Safdar.

Two people in the U.K. reportedly experienced allergic reactions with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors say these situations are far and few between.

“For people who know that they’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, they shouldn’t be getting it or they should at least have a conversation with their provider before getting it,” adds Dr. Safdar.

“Getting the vaccine by a health professional -- then you’re monitored, it’s regulated, it’s controlled and if you have an adverse response they can deal with it,” says Dr. Cassidy.

Doctors say they are not afraid to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because it’s gone through rigorous testing and trials.

“I am eager to get it to be honest, I am eager to take the vaccine. I look at it sort of as you can either get the vaccine or you can get the virus,” adds Dr. Cassidy.

Dr. Cassidy says the consequences of COVID-19 are more severe than the flu, she urges eligible people to get vaccinated once it becomes available.  

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