Q&A: Local doctor says COVID-19 ‘vaccine is the fastest and efficient way to be protected’ from virus

February 8, 2021 /

The COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Kern County Fairgrounds is accepting appointments for this week. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at this location, call 661-868-0165. 

Currently, those in Phase 1A – healthcare workers, and those 65 years of age and older are eligible for vaccination.

The Fairgrounds site is opening services gradually as vaccine remains extremely limited. The first phase is walk-up and by appointment-only, averaging 600 doses per day, which Kern Public Health is prepared to increase based upon vaccine allotment from the state.

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, Kern Sol News reached out to Olga Meave M.D, Chief Medical Officer at Clinica Sierra Vista, about the differences between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and their impacts on the pandemic. 

Q:Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines, so what makes them different from each other?

A: They work the same. The difference between the two is how they are stored. The Pfizer vaccine has to be contained at -70 degrees Celsius, while the Moderna can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius. The contents of the vaccines are the same. Both vaccines have no preservatives, so refrigeration is required. The refrigeration temperature is based on the stability of the molecules within the two vaccines. 

Q:Do you think the vaccine is the only way out of this pandemic?

A: Yes. The transmission rate is high, and along with the new strain, the vaccine is the fastest and efficient way to be protected.

Q: Will the vaccine work against any new strains of COVID-19?

A: So far yes. The efficacy may vary with the new strain of the virus, but as of now, there is not enough data to be sure. But even if efficacy did drop it can still lower the chances of severe symptoms or even death. As new vaccines become approved or authorized, the efficacy can be a lot higher for the new strain.

Q: What do you have to say to people who are nervous or skeptical of taking the vaccine? 

A: There will always be risks with every vaccine. The risks of the vaccine are less significant than the possible complications of COVID-19. The severity of symptoms can be a lot worse, and the mortality is high. 

Q:Should the public care about which one they take ?

A: People should take whichever vaccine is available. As more vaccines come out, we can see different levels of efficacy. Of course more vulnerable populations will be at an advantage by getting the vaccine with a higher percentage of effectiveness, but as of now people should take whichever is given. 

Q: Which vaccine(s) are/will be used for healthcare workers and the public? 

A: The Moderna vaccine is used at Clinica Sierra Vista. In hospital settings, the Pfizer vaccine is most likely to be used, since they are more likely to have the necessary equipment for storing the vaccine.