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Vaccines - Fact v. Fiction

October 20, 2020
As companies around the world work to develop a safe, effective vaccine to protect people from the COVID-19 virus, it’s important not skip other essential vaccines that help protect your family from serious, preventable illnesses including the flu, pneumonia, shingles, measles, and more. Joseph Fuscaldo, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Quality at GBMC, talked with Mary Beth Marsden about why now, more than ever, it’s important for people to make sure they’ve received the recommended vaccines, how vaccines work, and when a COVID-19 vaccine may be available.

“Vaccines help the body mount a stronger immune response to certain viruses and bacteria, protecting people from what can be life-threatening illnesses,” Dr. Fuscaldo explained. “They can be especially important for people whose immune systems are not as strong as a healthy person’s, like older people. People often forget that just 150 years ago, our life spans were shorter due to infectious diseases that we have now essentially eradicated with vaccines, including smallpox and polio.”

He talked about the reasons people give for not wanting to get a vaccine, from worry that it will be painful to concern about contracting the disease from the vaccine. “There is no way to get infected with the disease from the vaccination,” he said. “Some people experience minor symptoms like a low-grade fever, but that is in fact the body’s immune response to the vaccine. All FDA-approved vaccines are carefully evaluated for safety and effectiveness through clinical trials. I am a staunch believer in vaccines and only recommend to others what I recommend for my own family.”

As for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Dr. Fuscaldo said the current plan once a vaccine is approved by the FDA is for frontline employees to receive it first, since they are more at risk of exposure to the virus. “I’m confident that neither safety nor quality will be comprised during the approval process. When Dr. Fauci says a safe, effective vaccine is available, I’ll roll up my sleeve,” he added.
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