Doctor dispels COVID-19 vaccine myths in conversation with Prince William Co. NAACP

A Woodbridge, Virginia, family medicine physician dispelled several myths about the COVID-19 vaccines during a virtual conversation with Prince William County’s NAACP chapter, noting the vaccines were created safely and are not being “tested” on Black people or other minorities.

The conversation with Dr. Raenell Williams came as coronavirus case figures across Northern Virginia remain elevated, and as health officials are working to vaccinate the state’s most vulnerable populations.

In a conversation with Keisha Strand, the chapter’s health committee chair, Williams urged everyone to get the vaccine once eligible. She also said minorities should be encouraged by the fact about 40% of clinical trial participants were minorities.

“There’s no extra material, there’s nothing in it that’s experimental that anyone would be used as a test subject,” Williams said. “There’s no financial gain for any of these pharmaceutical companies to do that.”

According to Virginia Department of Health data, 20,756 vaccine doses have been administered in Prince William County as of Wednesday, and 2,719 people are considered fully vaccinated.

But still, some are hesitant to receive the vaccine.

Williams addressed reports revealing some doctors and nurses across the country are reluctant to be vaccinated.

“I would just say [it’s] just human nature to question, but there’s nothing that gives pause,” Williams said.

“If anyone in the medical field has looked at all of the data, has looked at the research and the scientific basis for how the vaccine was developed, it should help at least give some ease to their thoughts or any concerns that they may have.”

The vaccine was developed so quickly, Williams said, because similar vaccine technology was used for the MERS outbreak in the Middle East. That, coupled with China immediately sequencing the virus, allowed vaccines to be created in a timely manner.

Williams also said there isn’t a safety difference with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and noted the vaccines won’t be used as a way to track people. She pointed out the most common side effects include soreness at the injection site, headaches and fatigue.

And despite claims suggesting otherwise on social media, Williams said the vaccines won’t affect fertility.

To remain up-to-date on the latest vaccine distribution information, Williams urged Virginia residents to monitor the Virginia Department of Health’s website, stressing vaccination is “the first step to normalization.”

Virginia is currently in Phase 1b of its vaccine distribution plan.

“That’s why we really want to encourage everyone to get out and get the vaccine, all communities,” Williams said. “It’s really important for us to be able to protect ourselves the best that we can.”

Watch the full conversation on the Prince William County NAACP’s website.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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