“Once people started to get infected and reinfected despite being vaccinated, their interpretation then is this vaccine doesn't work…. But [the COVID-19 vaccine] was never designed, studied, tested, or released to protect against infection.” --Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD
The FDA has approved the latest COVID-19 vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer. However, many individuals are asking if they should get the booster and whether it is safe to do so. To address these concerns about the safety of mRNA technology in vaccines and any potential health issues, such as heart problems, associated with these vaccines, Infection Control Today® reached out again to Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, a Senior Fellow at George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.
Concerning safety, Birx said, “Vaccines should only be used for their intended use, and for their studied use, and in this case, [the COVID-19 vaccine] was for protecting against severe disease….Once people started to get infected and reinfected despite being vaccinated, their interpretation then is this vaccine doesn't work…. But [the COVID-19 vaccine] was never designed, studied, tested, or released to protect against infection.” Birx acknowledged the existence of potential side effects with vaccines but emphasized their overall safety, particularly the mRNA) vaccines. She highlighted that the safety of mRNA vaccines is well-established yet noted that personal benefits from vaccination may vary from person to person, underlining the individual nature of its effectiveness.
To answer who be immunized, she said, “People who are at risk for severe disease and hospitalization and death.” However, each individual needs to consider the risks and benefits of getting any vaccine. “Going forward, we need to clearly communicate that the protection against infection is so short-lived with our current COVID-19 vaccines that it is an individual decision to understand whether they [are] susceptible…to severe disease, if sometimes even just weeks or a few months’ protection against infection [is] relevant in their lives. And is that a risk-benefit ratio that they're willing to take?”
Birx further elaborated on the topic of potential health issues, stating, “It's naive for us to say that vaccines have no side effects. We are still mapping side effects to this particular vaccine, and the mRNA vaccine is extraordinarily safe. But that doesn't answer the question, ‘Will I personally benefit?’” That, she said, is up to each individual.