Dr. Buchwalder weighs-in on COVID-19 vaccines

Photo of coronavirus vaccine, courtesy of Pixabay.

Grace Dipierro 
News Staff Writer

As students and faculty prepare for another semester during COVID-19, many questions still arise about the safety and distribution of the newly developed coronavirus vaccines. 

Two COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized and approved for use in the United States, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna’s vaccine. Dr.Mary Buchwalder, Medical Director at UD’s Health Center, weighed in on the vaccine’s integrity, and stated that she is “very confident that the vaccines are both safe and effective.” 

Buchwalder explained that the research surrounding the types of COVID vaccine technologies have been extensively studied for about a decade. Additionally, each vaccine has undergone rigorous testing involving thousands of people with comparisons to placebo vaccines. 

The studies concluded that both vaccines are 94-95% effective in preventing serious disease from the COVID-19 virus. After being tested, these vaccines were reviewed by two independent panels that then recommended the vaccines to the FDA. 

The federal government guaranteed to pay for a certain number of vaccines regardless of whether it would be approved or not, that way the vaccines could be manufactured while they were being studied so they could be immediately available when ready. 

Buchwalder addressed concerns that the vaccines could lead to unexpected side effects in the future. These rare problems may only occur once millions of people have received the vaccine.

Due to the limited supply of vaccines, the CDC and governors of each state are administering the vaccines in phases. Those at higher risk of serious illness or death as well as those who work in healthcare are being vaccinated first. As more vaccines become readily available, more groups will be included in the process. 

Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health have successfully administered the first doses of the vaccine to local health personnel, including the Health Center staff at UD. Buchwalder is hopeful that UD will be able to offer vaccines to the general student population during the upcoming semester, but the time frames are still uncertain.

Since the supply of vaccines is still so limited, there will be no way to mandate that students, staff or faculty receive the vaccination at the present time. Buchwalder added that until the virus is no longer able to circulate as effectively and a high percentage of people have been vaccinated, the UD community must remain vigilant with our safety measures, including face masks, 6-foot distancing and hand washing.

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to people regardless of whether they were previously infected with the virus. Since there is much to be learned about how long immunity to the virus lasts after infection and vaccination, it is advised that everyone receive the vaccine if possible. 

Buchwalder said that she is willing to take her chances with the vaccine since she realizes the greater benefit it will have for society. She implores others to see the vaccine as a “personal opportunity and responsibility to protect each other.”

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