Scott Rathgaber, MD, CEO, Gundersen Health System and
Paul Mueller, MD, regional vice president, Southwest Wisconsin Region, Mayo Clinic Health System
We are in the middle of the greatest public health challenge in modern history, and we need your help.
COVID-19 vaccine is available, in limited supply, to healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff and others in our community at greatest risk of virus exposure and illness.
We know many people have questions about the vaccine and some are hesitant to get the vaccine when it's their turn. It's important to answer these questions and acknowledge the hesitancy.
As physicians who care for patients, we did not hesitate when it was our turn to get the vaccine in recent days. While we have no concerns about the vaccine and its safety, we want you to know what we know about it.
Here are the facts:
- The COVID-19 vaccine, like ALL other vaccines, has been scientifically reviewed and approved.
- NO shortcuts were taken to make the vaccine available.
- The vaccine is 95% effective against COVID-19.
- As part of the FDA emergency use authorization, the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine was carefully reviewed.
- Most people will experience mild side effects as they do with other vaccines: fever, headache, muscle aches and nausea. (This is a good thing. It means your body is building immunity against COVID-19.)
- The vaccine does not contain the live virus and cannot give you COVID-19.
Simply put: The risk of getting COVID-19 and spreading the virus to those who would face serious illness far outweighs the risk of getting the vaccine.
While we celebrate this critical step in our pandemic response, it is so important everyone continues to follow the practices proven to limit the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask; avoid large gatherings and maintain physical distancing; wash your hands regularly; and stay home if you're sick.
Getting vaccine to everyone will take time. Patience is appreciated and advocacy for the vaccine's effectiveness, safety and importance is needed so we can end this nightmare.
We are still in this together. And we will get out of this together.
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