Eyewitness News speaks to doctor following Pfizer vaccine’s emergency approval

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(WEHT) — One day after the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States, Dr. Brian Dixon, Director of Public Health Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, talked to Noah Alatza about when it could arrive in Indiana, possible skepticism and more.


Noah: How does the vaccine work?

Dr. Dixon: The vaccine requires two doses, so you get kind of the initial dose and then you get a booster shot about three weeks after that first initial dose.

Noah: When could we see the vaccine in Indiana?

Dr. Dixon: We expect to see the vaccine in Indiana as early as Monday. So the plant from Pfizer is not that far away from the border. And given our prowess in trucking and logistics and transportation, I would expect that we will see it, perhaps even tomorrow (Sunday) in the state.

Noah: How exciting is it for you as a doctor to have the FDA emergency approval now?

Dr. Dixon: We’re very excited. So our goal in public health is really prevention, we really want to keep people healthy and keep them from getting sick in the first place. And so to have a vaccine that will prevent people from developing COVID, or developing complications from COVID is very exciting for us because it means we can keep a lot of people healthy and safe.

Noah: How were they able to develop the vaccine so fast?

Dr. Dixon: So there was a number of factors that played a role in the speed of the development. One of them was the fact that it was really a worldwide effort that was focused on developing this vaccine, the whole world, including the WHO recognized that people would need a vaccine. And so scientists across the world have been focused on developing this. We also have a number of technologies today that we didn’t have 20 or 30 years ago, things like computational biology, you may have heard of proteomics, or genomics. So gene technologies really played a big role in specifically targeting the genetic makeup of this virus and then an antibody or a response to that that would protect the body from getting the disease.

Noah: Surveys show right now, approximately 50 percent of Americans are skeptical of the vaccine or contemplating whether to receive it. Is this something people should be skeptical of and why or why not?

Dr. Dixon: Well, I think that people, you know, have a right to be skeptical because it was it is the fastest development of a vaccine ever. However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that this vaccine has been tested in humans now for several months, we’ve had the vaccine actually developed in the spring. And then since then it’s been in stage three clinical trials and human populations. So for four months now, several people have been receiving this vaccine and the trials and the safety data around it is incredibly strong.

Noah: When would we know the length of time a vaccine is good for?

Dr. Dixon: So that’s a great question. So based on the data that we have, from the rapid trial, we know that is that this vaccine is effective for at least three months. And the data that Pfizer has now shared with the FDA and the American public in their documents, shows that it may be effective for even longer than that, in fact, it’s likely that it’s effective for longer than just three months. So we’re hoping that as the data continues to come in from the ongoing trials, that we will see that it’s effective for maybe nine to 12 months so that eventually this could be an annual vaccine, but that hasn’t been quite determined yet.

Noah: Are there people who should not get the vaccine or certain medications that it could interact with?

Dr. Dixon: Right now, we don’t have a lot of data on people that should avoid the vaccine. There were some early reports of people having an allergic reaction. That’s not all that uncommon. But it’s also not actually very common. So they’re looking into that in the UK. But the data from Pfizer would has nothing to suggest that anyone should really avoid the vaccine if they become eligible for it. The first course doses will be targeted towards frontline health care workers and individuals in in vulnerable populations. And so those individuals are encouraged to get the vaccine because those are the people who’ve been participating in the trials and the safety data is very strong.

Noah: Dr. Brian Dixon, thank you for joining us tonight.

Dr. Dixon: Thanks for having me.

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(This story was originally published on December 12, 2020)

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