covid-19 vaccine
A nurse administers the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination center, on the first day of the largest immunization program in the British history, in Cardiff, Wales, Britain Dec. 8, 2020. (Justin Tallis/Pool via Reuters)

Since the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved two coronavirus vaccines last month, the public should do its part to fight the pandemic by rolling up their sleeves and getting the shot, experts say.

Healthcare workers, nursing home residents, first responders, and other essential workers are among the first on the list to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that prevent against contracting Covid-19, and in the coming weeks and months it will become more widely available. But in order for it to slow the spread, enough people need to take it.

“We are at the very beginning of the rollout of the vaccine and we do hope the general population will buy into getting the vaccine,” says Dr. Thierry Duchatellier, chief of cardiology at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. “This is a landmark period in healthcare where a tremendous amount of effort and science has been put into a process that normally takes years.”

While hypertensive heart disease has proven to be the underlying medical condition with the highest mortality rate among coronavirus patients in New York State, the doctor notes that studies show Covid-19 is also causing damage to cardiovascular systems in patients without preexisting cardiac conditions. This is among the many reasons he advises his patients to get vaccinated against the virus.

“We hope that the population does understand that one way we are going to control this pandemic is by being immune,” he says. “Eventually when you have enough people vaccinated you reach a point where you have the herd immunity, where enough people have been vaccinated where the virus no longer spreads as rapidly between people.”

He is concerned that many people remain skeptical about taking the vaccine. Studies have shown about half of people in the tristate area wouldn’t take it. That’s concerning at a time when the virus is entering its second phase, hospitals are filling up again, and the public has grown complacent about basic preventative measures, such as wearing masks and not attending gatherings.

“If you have doubts, ask your physician,” he says. “There’s a lot of misinformation but … the benefits to me outweigh the risks.”

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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