COVID-19 Vaccine: Latest Updates and Going Forward
Learn about COVID-19 vaccine safety and how getting vaccinated protects you and your community in this 2 Your Well-Being discussion with Andre Harvin, PharmD, director of pharmacy, oncology, Cone Health, and WFMY News 2.
What is the current state of the vaccine in North Carolina? Where are we at with vaccinations?
"I think the easiest way to say that is we're just not where we want to be at this point in time. We had tremendous efforts done across the state. Had a lot of interest in the very beginning. We probably had more demand, but right now, we're at that point in time where really the demand has tapered off and to some degree diminished significantly. So right now, a little bit over half of the population in North Carolina that are eligible for it right at about 56% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 58% of all of North Carolina residents that are eligible for it are fully vaccinated. So still pretty far from our goal, but great progress has been done so far."
How concerned should we be about the Delta variant of COVID-19?
"The Delta variant is something that we keep a watchful eye on. It is here in North Carolina. It's extremely infectious compared to what we saw just a year ago from COVID-19. And this is what we worried about. When there's a lot of virus in the community, it has that ability to start to mutate and to bring up these variants that can essentially overwhelm things. It can spread faster. It can render vaccines less effective. Luckily, the vaccines that we have are still proving to be very effective against it and so, it is something to be worried about."
"You've heard a lot in different news segments that now COVID-19 is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We see that here in North Carolina, with over 99% of people that are getting hospitalized and those that have unfortunately lost their battle to COVID in these last few months have been unvaccinated. And really the Delta variant is something that we have to be worried about."
I've heard about breakthrough cases. Are some vaccinated people still getting sick with COVID-19? Why is that?
"These vaccines are incredibly effective. When we came out, we said we're getting over 90, sometimes 95% efficacy, but that's not 100%. And so we've been very clear about that from start that they're not full proof, that we really need everyone to come to the table - everyone that's eligible to receive the vaccine, we really need them to help us in this battle. Because we don't know how much longer we continue on this pathway before something occurs where another mutation may arise or another variant that may arise and start to render these vaccines a little bit less effective. But yes, there is such thing as as breakthrough infections, it's exceptionally rare. So now you're talking about less than one percent. It's less than probably .5 percent. So it's very rare, but it is something that can occur in certain situations."
Can you talk about herd immunity and why it's important?
"Herd immunity is something we talked a lot about - people heard it, they've pointed to it kind of early on in the pandemic, that we just needed to embrace it, probably not knowing all the facts and how dangerous the coronavirus was going to be. Essentially, what herd immunity does is once you reach a certain point - and it's really dependent on the the virus itself, for coronavirus we're looking at probably greater than 85% of our local population, and really the nationwide population that needs to be fully vaccinated before we can really even have a good understanding of what that immunity looks like."
"But herd immunity is really for those in the community that can't be vaccinated. So we think about the the exceptionally young, those with comorbidities that don't allow them to get vaccines. They may have had significant anaphylactic reactions in the past or they may have something in their medical history that just doesn't render them eligible for a vaccine. Herd immunity is where so many people in the community are vaccinated that the virus itself doesn't have the ability to jump to those that cannot receive the vaccine, and so therefore the herd - or those of us in the community - essentially act as their vaccine, their protection against this virus. But again unfortunately we're really far away from that if we don't have everyone coming to the table that's eligible to receive this vaccine."
Learn more by watching the full interview in the video above.