The Children's Study Home and the Public Health Institute of Western MA hosted a virtual panel discussion, The COVID Vaccine: Personal & Professional Perspectives Within African American and Latino Communities, on Friday March 5, 2021.

Panelists included:

  • Ronn Johnson, M.Ed., President/CEO, Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services Inc. 

  • Sarah Perez McAdoo, MD, MPH, Population Health Capstone Director, University of Massachusetts Medical School–Baystate 

  • Miguel Rodriguez, MD, Pulmonologist, Holyoke Medical Center 

  • Frank Robinson, PhD, Vice President, Public Health for Baystate Health 

Answers to Questions Submitted During Webinar

Answers provided by Dr. Paul Pirraglia, Chief of General Medicine and Community Health at Baystate Health, Updated 3/9/21

  • Was the vaccine was produced too quickly?
    • Probably not.  The technology (M RNA vaccines) that allowed quicker production has been around for a number of years.  This was a very appropriate application of that technology.  While the time from development to release was rapid relative to past vaccinations, the need for speed to try to stop the pandemic demanded a faster turn which includes the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA’s) granted by the FDA for all COVID vaccines in use in the US. 
  • What are the long term side-effects of the vaccine?
    • This is unknown as the vaccine is new.  This is one reason why the answer above says “probably”.
  • My mother was told she should wait 90 days to get vaccinated after having the virus. Is this true?
    • Mostly no.  She may have been told this because she probably would have some degree of immunity from her infection that would probably last at least 90 days so perhaps less urgent, though the recommendation is still to get vaccinated.  If she got a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID, she should wait 90 days. 
  • There have been reports of deaths as a result of persons having received the vaccine, can anyone speak to these assertions?
    • The reported rate of deaths among those vaccinated between 12/14/2020 and 3/1/2021 was 0.0018% (1381 out of 76 million).  This is very rare.  There is no pattern that suggests a safety concern with the vaccine.  To provide a comparison, there are 12.4 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people per year in the US—that translates to 0.0124% per year which means on average the risk of death in a traffic accident in a year is almost 7 times higher than a death related to COVID vaccination in the 3 months of observation.
  • ​What about a vaccine for children? People are very concerned with school going hybrid or full in person. Can someone talk about this.
    • Your concern with return to school is a good one.   The course of COVID illness and associated deaths are relatively lower in children which is somewhat reassuring but even so children can contribute to spread of the virus.  There are studies underway in children but they have only started recently.   It is anticipated vaccines for children would be available late this year but more likely early next year.
  • Can you share your perspectives about "Herd Community"? Have to be realistic about the fact that many will still not get vaccinated EVER.
    • Herd immunity is when a majority of people (estimated to be above mid-80% or so, depends on how easily the disease spreads) have been vaccinated or have immunity due to prior infection that a disease will not typically spread widely in the population (that is, there will only be scattered cases rather than clusters of outbreaks or widespread infection).  This is exactly why there is such interest in having enough vaccine  and encouraging people to take the vaccine to get enough people vaccinated that the virus does not spread widely across the population the way it has been.  It is also why the new variants that spread easier are a worry—the percentage to get to herd immunity goes up if the disease spreads easier.

To see Q&A from other webinars about the COVID-19 Vaccine, visit our FAQ page