Doctor talks the real risks of taking and avoiding the COVID vaccine

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There’s more than one reason the COVID-19 vaccine is so new. It’s also the only one in the world to ever use mRNA.

“The mRNA vaccines are actually much safer, because they don’t contain the virus. They can’t actually cause COVID-19,” explains oncologist and inDemic Foundation Director Dr. Sam Sun.

However, the fast tracked development and such a new method has many still skeptical about whether or not to take the vaccine. A Florida doctor’s death Sunday, two weeks after he got his first Pfizer shot is still under investigation. Doctors say he was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an immune system reaction that causes low platelet count.

“Certainly the timing is suspicious, I can understand that and believe that the CDC will conduct a thorough investigation. Could it have been caused by the vaccine? That remains to be seen, but the cause is unclear. Potential links to ITP could be if somebody has a certain cancer — particularly lymphomas — or if someone is taking certain drugs,” Dr. Sun explains in a Zoom call with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Doctor Sun is the chief resident at the Baylor College of Medicine and says the inDemic Foundation is a coalition of multi practice medical professionals who analyze COVID-19 treatments and solutions.

He says ITP already affects between two and six out of every 100,000 people in the general population and is not a noted side effect of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines on the market. He says you’re far more likely to experience the confirmed mild side effects like injection site soreness and fatigue.

“Given the number of people that we vaccinated to date, we could expect to find a couple cases of ITP. We should expect that, even if the vaccine does not trigger low platelet count,” he says.

Dr. Sun adds those with preexisting health conditions shouldn’t be scared of the COVID vaccine — any more than you would be of another medical treatment.

“For example, millions of Americans take statins to lower their cholesterol, and there are risks and side effects of statin use, whether that’s myopathy or muscle damage. Every medical intervention — whether it’s a drug or a vaccine — it always has some very rare side effects that we have to counsel patients on, but it’s not a reason to not get the vaccine,” he says.

“I would never put undue pressure on a patient who has serious reservations about taking the vaccine. I believe any medical intervention is a personal choice; however, you have to weigh the risks of the vaccine, which we know has very mild known side effects, with the risks of catching COVID-19. Research shows those with preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and the like, have a much higher chance of catching a more severe case of COVID-19, being hospitalized, or even put in the ICU.”

He says at least for himself, the vaccines he just received gave him a huge sense of relief.

“I still wear a mask in clinic, I still wear a mask when I go out grocery shopping and things like that, but it does make me feel more confident,” he says.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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