Local doctors explain why the COVID-19 vaccine is safe

Coronavirus Pandemic

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — If you’ve been on the fence about getting in line for one of the two COVID-19 vaccines, you probably aren’t alone.

Many theories are swirling the internet about possible side effects and adverse reactions, but two local doctors said residents should know that they are perfectly safe.

On Saturday, Resilience American Communities (RAC) Bay County, a coalition of local organizations, agencies, churches, and civic groups held “Tis the Season to be Safe: Deciding What’s Best for You and the Community” — a virtual COVID forum.

Its purpose was to inform community members on the current impact COVID-19 is still having in the area, explain how to limit exposure, educate them on the vaccine, and give a personal account of how COVID has impacted their lives.

Two local doctors were guest speakers, both contracted COVID-19 while on the job.

Dr. Albert F Mapp, Family Medicine Specialist in Panama City, Florida said he contracted the virus in August and said he’d never been so sick in his life.

Labor Day, I developed blood clots, I was in the hospital for three days,” Mapp said. “And today is December 19, and I still get short of breath going up a flight of stairs.”

Dr. A. Oussama Rifai, certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in the specialty of Internal Medicine and the sub-specialty of Nephrology said he also got COVID-19 in August.

“On August 11, I came home and I felt like a hammer hit me from head to toe,” Rifai said. “For two weeks, I could not get out of the bed. I would sit on the commode, I could not get myself off the commode.”

Both doctors spoke on the importance of washing your hands, social distancing and keeping your guard up — especially during the holidays.

Typical COVID concerns were expressed by community members, but a few subjects were discussed at length: the vaccine, vitamin D, and our local healthcare system.

When one resident expressed his concerns with the quick development of the vaccine, Dr. Mapp defended its origin.

“The vaccines that are out now are really short of a medical miracle,” Mapp said. “What they accomplished, they were able to break down the DNA, genetic material of the virus, and synthesize that to the genetic material in a test-tube. And that genetic material is the spike protein that infects the individual.”

Mapp said they were able to attach this material to a cold virus, of a chimpanzee.

“In essence, there is no active COVID viral particles in the vaccine what-so-ever,” Mapp said.

Rifai said he’s heard enough of the conspiracy theories.

“Each community, each city, each region will have its own built-in myths and I think there needs to be an effort to say, okay what is your concern?” Rifai said. “There needs to be, let’s hear from you, what is your concern, and I’ll tell you why it’s good and you’re wrong.”

Both doctors expressed their concern for our vulnerable healthcare system. Mapp said the local hospitals are busting at the seams.

“I had talked with one nurse for example, prior to getting sick and she was dealing with COVID,” Mapp said. “Normally nurses work one week on and one week off. She was on day 16 or 17 I believe and she was getting that Sunday, Monday, Tuesday off and going back to another two-week stint.”

With our local hospitals so strapped for workers, many hope the vaccine will get to our area soon.

“We’ll hopefully be getting this vaccine in the next week or so, and that’s the Moderna vaccine,” Mapp said. “And that’s for Bay, Gulf Coast, and Select.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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