University Hospital CEO explains importance of COVID-19 vaccine, mask-wearing to stop the spread
University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal says that he wants to emphasize to the public the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus.
When Gov. Phil Murphy expanded on who could receive the vaccine, the state was faced with a shortage of doses. But Elnahal, who is a former New Jersey health commissioner, says that vaccine centers are still keeping up with the demand.
Patients who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are required to get two doses to be fully inoculated. Elnahal says that the vaccine sites around the state are working to ensure that there are enough second doses for these patients. He says that patients who may have to wait a bit to get their second dose should know that even with just one shot, the vaccine is 70% effective.
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But he says that they will need to get the second shot eventually.
Those vaccines seem to be effective against new variants of COVID-19. Elnahal says that when the virus spreads in an uncontrolled way, the chance for mutations increases. Moderna has tested the vaccine against the variant from the United Kingdom, and so far, it seems to be effective.
But Elnahal says that researchers are unsure how the vaccine will work against variants from South Africa and California. He says that this is why it is so important to stop the spread of the virus, which is why he agrees with President Joe Biden’s recent moves to put some travel restrictions in place and mandate that people wear masks.
He says that mask-wearing has proven to be the most effective method to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
And as for people who are still skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccines – which were developed unprecedently in under a year’s time – Elnahal says that it is important to understand why people may be distrustful of the vaccine, and work to ensure those skeptics that the vaccine is well-researched and safe.
Finally, he says that people who may have already had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine. But he says that they should wait 90 days so that the natural interaction with the virus and their immune system will not interfere. He says that medical experts are still not sure how long immunity lasts for those who have had the virus once already.