Wolf, Levine, Others Push Facts on Vaccines

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf are concerned about coronavirus vaccine misinformation. (Flickr/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)

By Patrick Abdalla

January 12, 2021

The governor and others want Pennsylvanians to ignore rumors and disinformation.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday warned Pennsylvanians to watch out for rumors and misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines on social media.

Pennsylvanians should visit the Department of Health’s vaccine web page or the Centers for Disease Control to get accurate information instead, he said.

State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Chief of General Internal Medicine Dr. Cynthia Chuang joined the governor Tuesday in trying to dispel some misinformation around the vaccines.

Wolf said it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine. 

Chuang and Levine confirmed that the vaccines have very few side effects and that allergic reactions are rare.

Wolf compared the side effect of soreness to working out and being sore the next day.

“The vaccine is like a physical trainer for your immune system,” he said.

Of more than 23 million doses delivered across the country, there have been only 21 cases of allergic reactions, Chuang said.

Chuang said the vaccines’ success rates are “remarkable” for being in the mid-90s.

“Our seasonal flu vaccine, which we rely on very much, usually has a 40 to 60% efficacy rate,” she said.

Vaccine Rollout

Levine said that 30,172 front-line workers have gotten their second dose of the vaccine. Statewide, at least 311,477 Pennsylvanians have gotten their first dose of vaccine. That number is likely very low because of lags in reporting that can take up to 72 hours.

Levine also said the state is closing in on getting its 1 millionth dose from the feds. 

“Our mission to immunize any Pennsylvanian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine continues,” she said.

Wolf said, “There will inevitably be people who stand back.” But he said he doesn’t expect that number to be high.

Initial polling showed only about 50% percent of the population being eager to get the drug. But Chuang said every new survey seems to show more people are willing to get the vaccine.

“Although those initial numbers may have seemed discouraging,” she said. “I’m actually optimistic that we’re going to have a very high rate of vaccination interest as we move forward.”

Wolf and Levine also talked about wanting to make sure that providers aren’t throwing away or wasting any vaccines. 

If a provider shows up at a place like a long- term care facility and has left-over doses, they can vaccinate people who aren’t in Phase 1A, Levine said.

“The vaccines themselves are wonderful,” Levine said, “but it’s the vaccinations that will protect us from COVID-19.”


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