Infectious disease specializes emphasizes responsibility as vaccines administered

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived at Huntsville Hospital along with many places across the country, but experts say we are not out of the woods yet.

Huntsville Hospital will administer the first COVID-19 vaccines this week to frontline workers. According to Huntsville infectious disease specialist Dr. Richard Spera, that’s not a reason to think the pandemic will be over anytime soon.

“You’re going to have to have sufficient numbers of people be vaccinated and that’s going to take awhile. They don’t have 200 million doses in this ready to go immediately,” Spera said.

Spera says scientists are still trying to figure out just how long the vaccine provides protection.

“Until we know how effective this is in preventing spread and making sure you are immune to reinfection, you need to continue using social distancing policies,” he said.

New ways to treat COVID-19 are available, like monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab for those showing early symptoms. But Huntsville Hospital’s Dr. Sherrie Squyres says, while its proving to be very effective, they can only give it to 12 patients per day.

“You have to be referred by your doctor or the emergency department to get this after your diagnosis. We’ve been given a limited supply, so its not available to everybody,” she said.

Spera said this is not just an issue outside of Huntsville too.

“Those medicines are in short supply nationally. We don’t have good treatments for severe disease and so prevention is where it needs to be focused and that’s the social distancing and that’s vaccination.”

Spera said it is crucial to continue following CDC guidelines until enough Americans are immunized. He stressed that if we hope to stamp out the virus, we have to be patient.

“Look at the logistics and follow the science. The science will say that it is worth vaccinating you. It may take awhile for your turn in line to come, but in the meantime, we have to do what we can to prevent it,” Spera said.

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