ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan hosted an expert panel Thursday morning to discuss vaccines and current surge in Michigan.
Included was Dr. Arnold Monto, the chair of the FDA Advisory Committee that recommended authorizing the current COVID vaccines.
He said it will take nothing less than a community effort to fight the virus.
“We need to realize it’s not just a duty for yourself to get vaccinated, but it is a duty to the community,” Monto said.
Many parents asked the panel about how best to protect children, who can’t yet get vaccinated. Monto said it’s critical to prevent infections in the adults around them.
“Sooner or later, we are going to be able to vaccinate way down in age, but right now, this is another reason why everybody else should get vaccinated,” Monto said.
Other experts warned the surging cases also increase the risk for the vaccinated.
“When you have such high rates, as we do in the state right now, we were talking about 90% effective means if you were going to get 100 cases, you’re going to get 10 cases in people who were vaccinated, but if you have a thousand cases, you’re going to get 100,” said Dr. Sandro Cinti, Clinical Professor of Infectious Diseases, Michigan Medicine and Ann Arbor VA Health System
Another focus was to make the vaccine easier to get.
“Sometimes hesitancy is not true hesitancy, but it’s they don’t want to spend an hour, or they don’t have the ability to spend an hour on the internet searching for an appointment,” said Dr. Emily Martin, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “It’s on us to bring the vaccine to people and meet them where they’re at.”
Monto said the best way to prevent more deaths is to prevent infections.
“People are still dying of this disease and we don’t have a magic bullet to treat it,” Monto said.
All the the panel experts are fully vaccinated, but they said they’ve changed little about their behavior so far due to the high rates of the virus in the community and to protect their families.