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Alaska’s chief epidemiologist offers eight reasons to vaccinate

Undated image of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Undated image of the COVID-19 vaccine.(Carly Miller)
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 8:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Thursday, Alaska Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin shared with reporters his personal list of reasons for getting vaccinated.

Dr. McLaughlin made the remarks during a regularly scheduled COVID-19 video chat with various media outlets and other member’s of Alaska’s public health team.

As vaccines become more readily available, the state’s health team said it is always looking for ways to boost confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines in an effort to increase vaccine uptake.

Changing the minds of individuals who are vaccine hesitant will take personal connections and personal conversations, said Elizabeth Manning, a public information officer with the state health department.

Here are Dr. McLaughlin’s top reasons for getting the vaccine.

1) The three vaccines that are available in the United States are excellent at preventing COVID-19 illness.

2) If you don’t get COVID-19 illness, you’re not going to get long COVID, a syndrome that can affect people for weeks and months after the initial bout with the disease.

3) The vaccines provide superlative protection against severe illness and death.

4) Current evidence suggests that vaccinated persons develop more robust immunity than most people do through natural infection.

5) While the vaccine is free, if you get COVID-19, it can be very costly. An inability to work, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and intensive care can have large financial impacts.

6) If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine after coming into close contact with an infected person.

7) The faster Alaska reaches high vaccination coverage rates, the faster the state is going to be able to open the economy back up fully and in turn, get back to normal.

8) COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

McLaughlin also noted two drawbacks to the vaccines. These include the potential for some side effects, and the potential for allergic reactions.

He said he personally experienced some of the typical side effects associated with the second dose, like mild redness or swelling at the injection site, fever and fatigue, headache and chills. Some people also experience joint pain, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain, but McLaughlin said he did not experience those particular symptoms.

As for allergic reactions, “most of the allergic reactions that people have are mild but rarely serious,” McLaughlin said, adding that there have been five serious cases of anaphylaxis per million doses with the mRNA vaccines.

“Nobody has died from the vaccination that we know of,” he added.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine – and to make an appointment, track vaccination counts and more – is available at covidvax.alaska.gov.

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