MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dr. Nathan Chomilo, a pediatrician with HealthPartners, knows there is concern and worry among people about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I know that I, at the beginning of it all, had my own hesitancy,” Chomilo said.
He wrote a 35-tweet thread on Tuesday about the vaccine. He says he wanted to share his journey of working through those questions, as well provide links to information and data that he hopes will help people feel more comfortable in making their vaccination decisions.
“And really … do it in a way that isn’t, you know, dismissive,” he said. “These concerns are real, and I think that people deserve answers and deserve someone to share it in a way that brings them in.”
So, WCCO asked him to debunk some common COVID-19 myths circulating online. On Wednesday, Twitter announced it plans to remove misinformation about the vaccine. This comes after Facebook said it would work to take down false claims as well.
What do we know about the vaccine and Bell’s palsy — a condition that can cause paralysis in the face?
Dr. Chomilo said the condition can be caused by viruses.
“So far, there’s not connection of any evidence between the vaccine and Bell’s palsy,” he said.
In it’s briefing document to the FDA, Pfizer noted there were four temporary cases of Bell’s palsy among its 38,000 trial participants.
“Whenever you’re looking at large numbers of people with a vaccine trial, those … random things that happen are still going to happen,” Dr. Chomilo said. “We don’t see that happening above and beyond so far at this point what we normally might see in the population.”
Can the vaccine cause infertility?
“There were folks, women in the trial who started the trial not pregnant, got pregnant while in the trial, and that there’ve been no significant side effect,” Dr. Chomilo said.
According to the Associated Press, this debunked infertility myth started with a claim that a protein important to forming the placenta was similar to a COVID-19 spike protein. In reality, experts say these two protein are quite different.
“I think we have to wait and see about the long-term effects, but there’s not that concern of it being directly tied to any aspect of fertility,” Dr. Chomilo said.
Has there been enough time to properly research and test this vaccine?
“I think the main difference has been the timeframe has been due to a couple of things,” Dr. Chomilo said. “Money is a big reason.”
He said money and financial support allowed for multiple phases of trials to happen at the same time. Normally, one phase isn’t started until another phase is finished.
He also points out the technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines allow it be faster than other vaccines. This one doesn’t require months to grow it in a laboratory setting.
“And then the other is we’re in a pandemic, and that actually helps, you know, kind of weirdly,” he said.
Dr. Chomilo points out that the only way to know if the vaccine works is by having enough people to be exposed to the virus.
“We get people exposed sooner than we have in the past,” he said.
Ultimately, he says these vaccines are safe, to the best any expert can ever say a medication is safe.
“Vaccines are some of the safest interventions in medicine,” he said. “When we’re looking at the risk of getting COVID versus the risk of getting a vaccine, the vaccines are safer, they’re a better bet.”
Dr. Chomilo said he turns to the New England Journal of Medicine, the BBC, and certain experts in the field for his COVID information. For more links to sources he trusts, check out his Twitter thread, which include links from experts, and Stat News.
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