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Doctors Across Tampa Bay Try To Ease Fears Of Taking Coronavirus Vaccine

Vanessa Arroyo, a Tampa General Hospital front-line nurse, gets her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday Dec.14.
Vanessa Arroyo, a Tampa General Hospital front-line nurse, gets her Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Monday Dec.14.

Recent surveys have shown a large percentage of Americans don't plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine because they don't trust it, are afraid of getting sick, or aren't concerned with the virus.

The first vaccinations for COVID-19 are being given out this week to front-line health-care workers in Florida. But a lot of people have misgivings about the vaccine, with one survey of Hillsborough County residents showing one out of every three people wouldn't get the inoculation.

Some doctors are trying to allay those concerns.

Manuel Gordillo, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, spoke during a conference call Friday.

"The fact that after eight weeks of observations on tens of thousands of people that have had no significant side effects -- it's very, very important and a testament to the safety of these vaccines," Gordillo said.

James Fiorica, chief medical officer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said the Pfizer vaccine isn't like traditional vaccines.

"There's no live virus in it," he said. "What it does, the messenger RNA tells the cells in our body to make protein to protect ourselves. It's our own body protecting ourselves, it's not a foreign virus that's doing it. "

Dr. Jason Wilson, the associate medical director at Tampa General Hospital's emergency department, also spoke Friday on The Florida Roundup about the vaccine, which he and his colleagues received this week.

"Most of us have complained about the same things we get from the flu shot or a tetanus shot. I did have some soreness in my arm the next day but by 48 hours, really, everyone was feeling much better," Wilson said.

He said 85% of people experience soreness at the injection site, but overall, side effects are minimal.

A recent from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows 71% of respondents say they would "definitely or probably get a vaccine for COVID-19 if it was determined to be safe by scientists and available for free to everyone who wanted it," up from 63% in a September survey.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.