Fighting vaccine skepticism

Schumer asks CDC to educate the public on COVID-19 vaccine; Positivity rates consistent in Suffolk


In an effort to combat the skepticism associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launch a public relations campaign to educate the public about the shot.

“We’re doing very well [with] producing the vaccines and now distributing the vaccines, but there’s one problem: too many people are still afraid of getting the vaccine,” Schumer said at a press conference in Manhattan on Sunday, March 21. “If people are afraid of taking the vaccine, it will delay our ability to beat COVID back.”

Schumer asked the CDC to distribute a $1 billion ad campaign “to conduct outreach and build more confidence that the vaccine is not only effective, but has no notable side effects for the vast majority of people.”

Approximately 24.8 percent of Suffolk County’s population – well over 1 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

On March 6, Schumer and the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, which according to Senate Democrats, will put $1.88 trillion into federal investments to defeat the coronavirus and provide workers and families with resources needed to survive the pandemic. This includes the distribution of information about the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization, a substantial proportion of a population would need to be vaccinated to safely achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in January that if vaccine rollout goes as planned, the country could begin to see the effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early to mid-fall. However, Dr. Fauci last week stated that children may need to obtain vaccines for the country to obtain herd immunity.

According to state data, over 7.5 million total COVID vaccine doses have been administered across the state.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced that pharmacies are eligible to vaccinate individuals with comorbidities and underlying health conditions. Pharmacies were previously able to vaccinate New Yorkers over the age of 60 and teachers.

"New Yorkers with comorbidities are among our state's most at-risk residents, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine protects this vulnerable population as we work to defeat the virus and establish the new normal," Cuomo said in a press release. "As New York receives more doses and more people receive the vaccine, we're able to expand the population pharmacies can serve, and this is a common-sense step forward that will help make it easier to protect New Yorkers."

As of March 20, Suffolk's COVID-19 positivity rate was 5.4 percent, above the state’s 3.2 percent. A total 168,334 individuals in Suffolk have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The CDC website states that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials.

A rare blood-clotting condition has occurred in some individuals after they received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. That vaccine is not currently authorized for use in the United States.


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