COVID-19 vaccine concerns

Posted at 10:06 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 00:26:52-05

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — For Macro Island native and Gainesville, FL nurse Jamie Mackenzie, risk is a part of the gig.

"We deal with patients that have HIV, we deal with patients that have tuberculosis.," said Mackenzie "If I just speak for anesthesia. I'm putting my face in someone's mouth and intubating them and essentially obtaining an airway during anesthesia and during surgery."

But during this pandemic the risk felt different.

"I have all the things that I need to feel safe doing my job, but it's still kind of scary," said Mackenzie.

So when the world got wind of Pfizer's approved vaccine, you'd think she'd be jumping for joy, but Mackenzie says it didn't quite happen that way.

"I'm gonna be honest with you. I was like, 'I'm not getting that.' (laughs). I'm like, 'I'm gonna wait in line behind like 100 people that I know to get it.' I was very skeptical," she said.

It's a very real reaction that many are having.

So to help us understand the vaccine a little bit better, I spoke to a biologist from Florida Gulf Coast University.

Biological Sciences Professor Clifford Renk says most vaccines use an inactive or "killed" version of the virus, but in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine:

"You're injecting a piece of the genetic material from the virus and then your body will make the anti-gen," said Renk.

Essentially it tricks your immune system into thinking you have a mild version of the virus, so you can build up resistance to it.

"It's much safer because they're only injecting a piece of the virus and not the whole virus, whether or not it's killed or inactivated," he said.

Armed with research like that, Mackenzie says she took the plunge and got the shot this week.

"I've had zero symptoms; in fact the shot didn't even hurt at all," she said.

But above all else she says this thought is ultimately helped her make up her mind:

"The benefit of getting the vaccine outweighs the risk of getting COVID and spreading it to your loved ones and spreading it to patients," she said.

For more information on the Pfizer vaccine, click here.