A key CDC committee voted Tuesday on who should get COVID-19 vaccines first. Their decision: health care workers and nursing home residents. But what do those on the front line think?
Dr. Steven McDonald, emergency medicine physician says: "I would be lying to you if I said I would run towards vaccine arms wide open. I definitely have some trepidation around receiving a vaccine. That said, … I'm a physician, and therefore I'm a scientist. And so I have to turn over my thoughts and faith to science."
McDonald says we don't know the long-term health risks of the vaccine, but he adds that the risks of the coronavirus are even more harmful. He will get the vaccine, but says he'll feel more at ease if Dr. Anthony Fauci and other leading officials in government and at hospitals take the vaccine as well. "I feel that I need to do the same for patients," says McDonald. "If their doctor isn't taking it, then why should they? And so I do feel a personal responsibility on that front to take it."
McDonald isn't alone. Nurse Jessica Gabat Yurko says she's not comfortable getting the vaccine, but if it's mandated she will take it. She says, "My concern is if we do receive the vaccine, is it going to give us severe side effects ... where we can't work anymore and then we won't be able to take care of patients?"
The CDC committee is recommending that hospitals stagger vaccinating their health care workers so entire departments aren't out due to any side effects.
COVID-19 deaths linked to senior homes have surpassed over 100,000 people, and an executive director of one skilled nursing facility says if it is available, he cannot wait to be one of the first to get a vaccine.
"I'm very excited for this vaccine to be distributed to us, especially front-line workers protecting seniors," says Joenel Torrillo the executive director at Pennsylvania's Manatawny Manor.
Nursing home residents will also get priority. "It is very important for them to have a vaccine. It is because they are the high risk population," says Torillo. The CDC committee is recommending these guidelines, but ultimately it will be state governors and state health departments who will decide distribution.