Jersey City mayor wrongly says COVID vaccines include live virus
New Jersey officials may have a challenge combatting misinformation being spread online about COVID-19 vaccines — including, as it turns out, by Jersey City's mayor who had to backtrack some of his vaccine comments on Twitter after being called out by followers.
Pfizer and Moderna are moving forward with what would likely be the first messenger RNA — or mRNA — vaccines to be licensed in the United States. These vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has outlined information about the vaccines under development, noting "mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies."
In a series of tweets Saturday, Mayor Steven Fulop wrongly described the vaccines as containing small doses of novel coronavirus.
On Sunday, he stopped short of fixing the error, instead noting his initial message "deserves some clarification as I shouldn’t have written 'asking residents to be injected with small dosages of the virus' as that isn’t how the 1st vaccines will work. My overall sentiment of the tweet is accurate on lack of public awareness."
Fulop said in his Saturday tweets that the state's plan to offer a vaccine to 70% of the state's population within six months was "ambitious" and would require more "education structure" from the state on the process, including possible side effects.
He also said Jersey City wasn't "seeing enough outreach from the state on that front to doctors so we’re hearing medical professionals giving mixed feedback to their patients" on advice for when a vaccine is available.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Monday that the state was preparing a public awareness campaign, hoping to convince more people that the vaccinations are safe and that the science behind them is sound.
The state's COVID-19 online dashboard has a brief entry for the developing vaccines, noting, "Sometimes getting a vaccine can lead to mild health impacts, such as a fever. The CDC advises that such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity."
Some of the vaccines closest to being ready for production would require a two-dose regimen, 21-28 days apart.
Just last week, AstraZeneca became the third major drug company to report late-stage data for potential COVID-19 vaccines, according to the federal government, based on analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil.
Persichilli also said the first shipment of vaccine, expected as early as December, “will be reserved for paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct and indirect exposure to patients or infected materials.”
In August, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health shared a question-and-answer session with the leaders of the Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines, Epidemics, and New Technologies project.
"The first step is really to see how people respond to the vaccines currently being tested, with a particular focus on healthy women who are of childbearing age but are not pregnant," according to the collective answers from Ruth Karron, Ruth Faden and Carleigh Krubiner.
They noted that data gathered will help medical experts make informed recommendations on whether the risks are worth the potential protection of getting one of the new vaccines as they become more readily available to the general public.
The same month, Reuters and the Poynter Institute debunked a video circulating on social media that had made-up claims about infertility risks in a coronavirus vaccines being developed by GlaxoSmithKline.
As reported Sunday by Bloomberg, the United Kingdom was poised within days to approved the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine.
Federal officials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, have announced that the first vaccine doses will be distributed to all 50 states and six major cities, including New York City, based on population of adults.
The goal is fair and equitable distribution, Operation Warp Speed Chief Operating Officer Army Gen. Gus Perna said in a written statement.