Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 have the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Tens of thousands are arriving in Florida and they will go first to health care workers.
NBC 6 Investigators sent an online survey to physicians and nurses in South Florida to get their views on the vaccine.
Out of nearly 50 health care workers who responded to the survey, the majority said they want to take the vaccine but some have concerns about possible side effects.
“While the vaccine may have unknown side effects, I feel getting it is patriotic and will likely help me keep my family and the greater public safer,” one wrote.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s versions are more than 90% effective, according to the FDA, and they have be taken in two doses. They are RNA vaccines, which means they are like clones of the virus that trigger your immune system to fight off the real thing.
Emergency room nurse Dayna James got the vaccine this week and says the more she learned about it, the more comfortable she felt getting it.
“When you get over the shock of - it seems new - you get familiar with the actual science behind it. You go, OK, this is not brand new, really, and the numbers are what they are. It’s exciting,” James said.
James is a registered nurse at two South Florida hospitals, caring for COVID-19 patients and suspected positive patients.
"I’m not going to let me guard down, but I can exhale a little bit,” James said. “I’ll think a little bit more secure, good, I won’t bring it home to my family.”
The NBC 6 Investigators get results
Out of 49 responses in our survey, 61% said they would get vaccinated for COVID-19 versus 22% who said they would not and 16% who said they didn’t know.
When asked if they had any concerns or reservations about getting the vaccine, 59% responded yes. Most of their concerns revolved around the possibility of short and long-term side effects.
“I don’t want to be first in line,” one participant wrote. “I would like to see that people who have had the vaccine don’t have any significant untoward effects from it.”
The vaccine rollout comes as COVID-19 cases continue to increase and deaths from complications continue to hit records nationwide.
“It’s very much been a roller coaster,” James said.
James tells NBC she thinks of the vaccine like the flu shot, adding she didn’t get it because she was worried about getting the flu herself, but getting the flu shot helps protect others from her, especially the old, the sick, and the vulnerable.
“I think that if we get into that mindset that we do it to protect each other, maybe we can convince some of the people who are hesitant,” James said referring to the vaccine.
The veteran nurse says she has not experienced any side effects and local hospitals so far have not reported adverse effects either.
The numbers we found are not that different from nationwide polls of non-healthcare workers. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 71% of Americans said they would get the vaccine, up from 63% in August.
A public awareness campaign is a key part of distributing the vaccine. That’s why you see Vice President Mike Pence getting it this week on television. President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to get it next week.