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Jupiter infectious disease doctor says coronavirus vaccine candidate is 'safe'

'I think the challenge for the vaccine will be the side effects,' Dr. Leslie Diaz says
Posted at 2:24 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 14:24:38-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida infectious disease doctor said she believes the new coronavirus vaccine candidate is safe, but she does warn that it could come with some side effects.

"I think the challenge for the vaccine will be the side effects," Dr. Leslie Diaz, an infectious disease specialist at Jupiter Medical Center, told WPTV during an interview Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee was meeting Thursday to consider Pfizer's version of its COVID-19 vaccine, after which time it could issue an emergency use authorization.

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An emergency use authorization allows practitioners to administer a vaccine despite it not gaining full FDA approval, which would allow Americans not in a trial or hospital setting to receive the vaccine.

Diaz said one potential side effect of the vaccine is fatigue. She noted that during clinical trials in the United Kingdom, 60% or more felt fatigue. She said a "very small percentage" of those affected experienced "debilitating" fatigue.

It's for that reason, Diaz believes, that companies administering the vaccine do so in a way that "you're not going to be putting out a whole department."

"So I think they're going to have to stagger it," Diaz added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care workers and long-term care facility residents should be the first to have access to a vaccine.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida will prioritize its vaccine allotment for residents of long-term care facilities, high-risk health care workers and people who are 65 or older and living with significant comorbidities.

"I believe in the vaccine," Diaz said. "I think that everybody (who) has been offered the vaccine should get it. It is a safe vaccine, as far as we know, and it is a very effective vaccine."

Diaz said the FDA has been working around the clock to achieve something that usually takes years to accomplish, and she wants to reassure people that the vaccine is safe.

"The protocols were very rigid and very attentive, from their part, in order to get this done in a very fast fashion, and that's why it's out so quickly," Diaz said.