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St. Lucie County to hold COVID-19 vaccine 'myth buster' town hall

'You're not going to get infected with a live virus,' doctor says
Posted at 8:46 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 13:02:57-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — County leaders in St. Lucie County are organizing a town hall to help clear the air of myths surrounding the coronavirus vaccine.

WPTV spoke with several residents Thursday in Port St. Lucie who said their No. 1 concern is that the coronavirus vaccine is too new to get.

"It's something I'm not in a rush to get," resident Frank Salek said.

"I mean, it's brand new, right? It's like taking a new medication," resident Cheryl Nasso said.

Residents are voicing their concerns, but doctors are working to put their indecisiveness to rest.

"The science behind it, the technology behind it, is not new," said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Leslie Diaz. "This is not a live virus vaccine. You're not going to get infected with a live virus."

Diaz said you cannot catch the coronavirus from getting the vaccine. However, side effects, not to be confused with the actual virus, are possible.

"You may get a fever of 102 or 103 [degrees]. Yes, you may get body aches. That is overwhelming inflammation of different proteins that are produced in the process of producing the antibodies," Diaz said.

The spread of misinformation has forced St. Lucie County leaders to host a "COVID Vaccine Myth Buster Town Hall" on Feb. 4.

Residents with questions about COVID-19 or the vaccine are welcome to attend the town hall in person or virtually. County officials said attendance will be limited to less than 50 people to allow for social distancing. For those watching on Facebook Live, staff will be fielding questions posted in the comment section to the panel.

The panel for the town hall will include:

  • Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie Administrator Clint Sperber
  • Dr. Wilhelmina N. Lewis with Florida Community Health Florida Community Health Centers
  • Dr. Moti Ramgopal with Midway Specialty Care Center
  • Dr. Fernando Petry, chief medical officer with Cleveland Clinic Martin Health

"I kind of want to see how this all plays out over the next couple months, so I'm not rushing to get to the front of the line [to get the vaccine]," Salek said.

Diaz said with tens of thousands of people already vaccinated months ago, long-term effects would be known if they existed.

"The facts are that if you go beyond two to three months and nothing happens to you, the likelihood of that happening are almost next to zero that is related to the vaccine," Diaz said.

Unless everyone is on board, she said it will be hard to get back to life like it was before the pandemic.

"I think it's the responsibility of everybody to strive and meet that goal of herd immunity because by doing that, it really will save us from having to continue the vicious circle," Diaz said.

She advises patients not to take any anti-inflammatory medications prior to getting the vaccine because there is not enough data to show whether it will decrease the efficacy of the vaccine.