Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine as Soon as It's Available?

While a coronavirus vaccine is widely seen as a silver bullet to resolve the ongoing pandemic, many Americans say when a vaccine is available, they are not going to be first in line to get it.

A national poll found that as many as 50% of Americans may wait to get the vaccine. Among that group, about 70% said they had concerns about safety as the coronavirus vaccine could be one of the fastest ever to be developed.

But experts say vaccines are being tested rigorously and people have little reason to fear.

"I want to see whether the vaccine does seem to protect people and doesn’t cause any major toxicities or major health problems. And if those data look very good and after the FDA reviews it, along with their expert committees that will review it, I will certainly be in line to get one," said Dr. Susan Ellenberg, interim Chair of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics at the UPenn School of Medicine.

She spoke with KCBS Radio’s "Ask An Expert" Wednesday about vaccine trials and said the ongoing vaccine trials are meant to resolve any questions about safety. Many of the major candidates being developed in the U.S. will be tested in a diverse group of 30,000 people each before seeking FDA approval.

"What should scare people is the proportion of people who do get really sick and die," said Dr. Ellenberg. "And there have been young healthy people in that category. Even though they are at less risk of that than others, it’s not zero risk."

Getting the vaccine can also protect those around you, which Dr. Ellenberg said should be a serious consideration for even those at low risk.

"I think once a vaccine is shown to be effective and it seems to be safe, I would think everybody would want to get a vaccine," she explained. "We all want to get back to our normal lives as quickly as possible and a vaccine that’s highly effective is going to really help us do that in the fastest way."

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