I want to reach out to you during these difficult times to let you know that I am honored and privileged to be chosen as your healthcare provider. As we enter the next phase of our fight against COVID-19, I want you to know that I take your trust in me very seriously. Hence, I would like to share with you my perspective on the COVID-19 vaccines.
Many of you have shared with me that you have some hesitation about the COVID-19 vaccines. I too was skeptical at first because of the unprecedented speed with which they were developed, and the novel technology (mRNA) used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
However, after thoroughly researching these concerns, I have come to these conclusions. As far as the speed of developing the vaccines, this was the product of an unprecedented global cooperation between researchers, scientists, government and private companies. That cooperation built on an already existing very sophisticated infrastructure. Despite the incredible speed, safety has not been compromised. As is customary with any vaccine, ongoing monitoring will continue as it is essential to look for any unforeseen side effects.
Messenger RNA (or mRNA) is genetic material that contains instructions for making proteins. mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 contain synthetic mRNA. Inside the body, the mRNA enters human cells and instructs them to produce the "spike" protein found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The body recognizes the spike protein as an invader and produces antibodies against it. If the antibodies later encounter the actual virus, they are ready to recognize and destroy it before it causes illness. mRNA has no capability to change a person’s own DNA. Scientists have been working on this technology for decades, and the recent outbreaks of Ebola, SARS, MERS and now COVID-19 quickened the pace.
After careful research, both myself and my team have moved forward with getting the COVID-19 vaccine and are now fully vaccinated. Aside from minor soreness in the vaccinated arm and some fatigue the day after, we all feel well and grateful to be offered that opportunity.
Although vaccination prevents COVID-19 disease in most people, a vaccinated person can still ‘catch’ COVID-19 virus and pass it on to other people despite having no symptoms. That’s why we are still recommending masking, social distancing, and hand washing etc. until further notice from the CDC. Our knowledge about this virus and the current vaccines is constantly growing and evolving. I shared with you my perspective based on current information, but I highly encourage you to stay updated by following the CDC and IDPH websites.
As we mentioned in our earlier email to you, we will unfortunately not be getting any supplies of COVID-19 vaccines at our office. Please visit your local county website (Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, etc.) to register for the vaccine by filling out their survey and wait to be notified when it’s your turn. Pharmacy chains, such as CVS, Osco, and Walgreens are also accepting registration for the vaccine on their websites.
I wish you and your loved ones continued good physical and mental health. Be kind to yourselves and to others. We are all in this together.
— Abdallah Karam, MD