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Medical leaders denounce misinformation on Covid vaccine

To the residents of Henderson County:
We the undersigned healthcare professionals of Henderson County take objection to the misinformation that was recently  espoused at the June 16 meeting of the Henderson County Board of Commissioner regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. The vigorous scientific method we adhere to that has allowed us to use the safest and most effective medical knowledge to care for patients with cancer or strokes or diabetes is the same vigorous scientific method that has been employed regarding the science of infectious diseases, including Covid-19. In an effort to serve and protect our community, we have provided scientific medical information below in response to public comments from the meeting.
1) The vaccine is causing death and injury worldwide
This is blatant misrepresentation of the truth, as the vaccines have dramatically reduced deaths caused by Covid-19 infection. From Dec. 14, 2020 through July 6, 2021, more than 331 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered in the U.S. During this time, 5,946 deaths (0.0018 percent) were reported among people who received the vaccine. In contrast, the case fatality rate for Covid-19 infection in the United States (rate of death among symptomatic individuals) remains around 1.8 percent. This means that the risk of death from symptomatic Covid-19 infection was (and remains) at least 1,000-fold higher than the risk of dying from the vaccine.
Recent analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that over 99 percent of patients recently hospitalized with Covid-19 infection throughout the U.S. had not been vaccinated. Data closer to home within the University of North Carolina Health System revealed similar information, with more than 94 percent of North Carolinians recently hospitalized with Covid-19 having not been vaccinated. This means that a substantially disproportionate fraction of those now hospitalized with Covid-19 (in fact, nearly all) have not received Covid-19 vaccines. Finally, we know that the 7-day rolling average for deaths attributed to the virus reached a high of more than 3,000 deaths per day in the U.S. in February 2021. Now, with approximately 150 million Americans having completed the vaccine series, deaths associated with Covid-19 have fallen to approximately 150 cases per day as of the first week of July.
2) “…gene altering and toxic materials are being injected…”
Both mRNA and viral vector Covid-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes Covid-19. This material, however, enters only the cytoplasm of the cell, never entering the nucleus, where our DNA is kept. This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. The technology used to create mRNA vaccines has been in place for well over a decade and has the potential to help make life-saving medical advances, including in our fight against cancer.
3) Vaccines are experimental
At what point does any new innovation, a new cancer treatment for instance, move from experimental to proven? The scientific data confirms to us that the Covid-19 vaccine has been proven to save lives. The original clinical trials revealed a significant reduction in risk for infection, hospitalization, and death from Covid-19 following vaccination. In order to validate these data, multiple clinical trials have since been completed and published, proving the value of the vaccines such that they are no longer considered experimental. For example, results from a large “real world” study with more than 46,000 participants worldwide revealed an overall efficacy rate of 91 percent for preventing Covid-19 infection for the Pfizer vaccine, and 100 percent for preventing severe disease and death, over a 6-month timeframe. In a second study performed in Israel, for more than 4.7 million vaccinated individuals receiving the Pfizer vaccine, there was a 97 percent level of protection against severe illness or death. Therefore, there are ample data from millions of vaccine recipients in multiple countries and in multiple settings which verify the original data on which the vaccine approval was based. For those who think the technology used to create mRNA vaccines is experimental, it is worth noting that this technology has been in place for well over a decade, with success demonstrated for nine other vaccines using this technology prior to its application to Covid-19 infection.
4) Vaccines cause infertility
This idea that the vaccine could cause sterility in women came from the speculation that the genetic code of the placenta protein, called syncytin-1, shared similarity with the genetic code of the Covid spike protein. This hypothesis, which was ultimately proven to be incorrect, was picked up by social media and thus for some became “fact.” It is problematic when a hypothesis is determined to be fact before adequate scientific examination. The peer reviewed medical journal Fertility and Sterility stated the following on March 19, 2021:
“No evidence for any effects on fertility with vaccine administration have been reported from Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen. At this time, there is no long-term data regarding the Covid-19 vaccines, and so it is essential to educate the public that there is no current evidence, nor any valid theories, to suggest any credible risk of male or female infertility with Covid-19 vaccine administration.”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) also specifically states that the mRNA vaccines “are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies.” The CDC also states that “there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine.” Women are now becoming pregnant after receiving the vaccine and pregnant women are getting the vaccine. Therefore, information has become available since these original trials that show that the speculation of infertility was just that, speculation and not a proven problem.
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine from April 21, 2021, “Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons,” has described safety in pregnant women as well as outcomes in women who became pregnant after the vaccine. Thus far medical conclusions did not show obvious safety concerns among pregnant women who received the vaccine. We have also learned that acquiring Covid-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of the woman for severe illness, including ICU admission and death, as compared to nonpregnant persons of reproductive age. It also appears in this early data that pregnant women with Covid-19 might be at increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared to pregnant women without Covid-19. The CDC and ACIP, in collaboration with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued guidance indicating that Covid-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant persons.
5) The masks don’t even work
This statement appears to challenge the germ theory (that microorganisms cause infections) that was established nearly 200 years ago. Masks work very well to protect against infection. Routine masks may prevent about 70 percent of viral particle transmission even during extreme circumstances of exposure to high concentrations of virus particles in close quarters as with coughing or sneezing. Masks reduce respiratory virus infections by up to 80 percent for those exposed to individuals with respiratory virus infections. As confirmation of this concept, data demonstrated that in the U.S. and other countries, implementation of face covering policies reduced daily rates of confirmed Covid-19 infections more so than either stay-at-home or social distancing measures. In addition, mask-wearing reduces the proportion of symptomatic Covid-19 infections, thereby reducing likelihood of spread of the infection

We hope that the above data will help the citizens of Henderson County better understand the science. As Americans, we stand by and stand up for everyone’s First Amendment right of free speech. We commend the County Commissioners for allowing people to speak their minds. We do, however, denounce misinformation and any action that hampers efforts of the health care system of Henderson County from properly educating and protecting the public.

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Authors are David Ellis, MD, VP of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, Pardee UNC Health Care; Christopher Parsons, MD, Medical Director, Center for Infectious Diseases, Pardee UNC Health Care; Carol Stefaniak, RN, PhD, Vice President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer, Pardee UNC Health Care; Teresa Herbert MD, MPH, VP of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, AdventHealth Hendersonville; Roland Joy, MSN, BSBA, RN VP of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer, AdventHealth Hendersonville; Richard Hudspeth, MD, CEO, Blue Ridge Health; Diana Curran, MD, Medical Director, Henderson County Department of Public Health; and Steven E. Smith, MPA, Director, Henderson County Department of Public Health