Why you should get the COVID-19 Vaccine, according to doctors in St. Petersburg

Photo of a doctor in a white coat holding a syringe
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The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available to senior residents, doctors and nurses in Florida, soon the vaccine will roll out and become available to all residents of the Sunshine State. Here’s why you should get one, and how it can save your life.

The following letter was written by David Berman, DO, FAAP, FPIDS, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist with the support of Dr. Mona Mangat, Allergist/Immunologist at Bay Area Allergy & Asthma and Dr. Israel Wojnowich, City of Saint Petersburg Health and Wellness Center. All serve on the City’s Advisory Group for COVID-19.

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has negatively impacted the lives of everyone in our beloved City of St. Petersburg. The good news is that we have safe and effective vaccines to keep people healthy and stop the spread of this deadly virus.

Once you get the vaccine, you won’t die from COVID-19 and chances are you won’t even be hospitalized. When I’m asked about effects from the vaccine, I tell people that in the first 24 hours following the vaccine expect arm soreness, generalized achiness, headache, tiredness, and low-grade fever, especially after the second dose. This is a normal response to the vaccine and it means that your body can now fight the real virus! There is absolutely no virus in this vaccine. If you expect these effects, then you won’t be caught off guard.

It is not surprising that people are scared about a new vaccine. People have been fearful of vaccines since the discovery of the smallpox vaccine more than 200 year ago. Science and vaccines have been politicized throughout world history. But what is new over the past 20 years is the ease with which vaccine disinformation is spread in social media.

The correct and truthful messaging is extremely important. Unfortunately, with names like “warp speed”, more fear is created since nothing about this vaccine technology was rushed to compromise safety. During my career as an infectious disease specialist, I have been educating communities about the safety and benefits of vaccination to prevent disease illness and death.

I have firsthand experience caring for children that have suffered and even died from vaccine-preventable diseases, including COVID-19. Is the risk of harm from COVID-19 disease greater than the vaccine? Absolutely, by magnitudes!

Whenever I discuss vaccines, I like to put things into perspective and have my patients understand the risks of vaccinating as compared to infection with the virus or bacteria and other risks. Just our daily activities carry a far greater risk of harm than any vaccination. These include:

-Driving in Florida
-Driving on Interstate-4 (1.25 deaths per mile of highway, highest in the US)
-Not wearing a seatbelt while driving or a child not in a car seat.
-Medications or household cleaners within reach of a child
-Owning a swimming pool without a pool fence
-Riding a bicycle or motorcycle without a helmet
-An unsecured firearm in your home
-Skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, tackle football
-Alcohol consumption and smoking
-Low fiber diet and obesity
-Food-poisoning (contaminated food with a virus or bacteria)
-Unprotected sex (sexually transmitted infections, too numerous to mention!)

So now it’s time to get vaccinated! It is up to all of us to protect each other and to lift us out of the deadliest pandemic in modern history.

The only way this will be successful, as demonstrated throughout history, is by vaccinating as many people as possible. I encourage you to speak with your friends and families and to get the vaccine when it is available.

Share the truth on social media and trust the authorities that know the most about infectious diseases. If we don’t collectively rise to the occasion, we will continue to suffer during these challenging times for months and years to come.

While the vaccine is not available to all just yet, you can expedite the process by signing up and registering now through the state of Florida by clicking here.

Dr. David Berman has been practicing pediatric infectious diseases in St. Petersburg for 20 years. He has been involved in vaccine advocacy on a state and national level. His other areas of research include appropriate use of antibiotics, rapid diagnostics for infectious disease, and treatment of fungal infections in cancer patients. Dr. Berman serves on the St. Petersburg Advisory Group for COVID-19.