LANSING — In a press conference on Tuesday, state officials provided facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and warned of new scams that have already started.
With the Pfizer vaccine starting to be administered to healthcare workers throughout the state and the Moderna vaccine expected to be coming soon as well, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun provided some answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine.
“We are seeing positive trends in the data,” she said. “Trends are declining in all areas of the state and hospitalizations are also declining. We are cautiously optimistic that there was not a post-Thanksgiving surge in the virus. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective, and is safe.”
Khaldun also said the vaccine was tested in trials that included tens of thousands of people.
“The vaccine was developed using a robust scientific process,” she said. “No steps have been skipped in the approval process. The vaccine cannot actually give someone the virus; it only shares a specific code with the body to help it recognize the virus and fight it off.”
With almost 300 providers across the state that are able to administer the vaccine, hospitals, local health departments, pharmacies and outpatient clinics will be able to provide the vaccine to everyone with no out-of-pocket costs.
The vaccine is being distributed to healthcare workers this week and by the end of the month the state hopes to start vaccinating staff and residents of nursing home facilities.
The state will then start vaccinating other essential workers and those who are at high risk for severe cases.
With the vaccine expected to be distributed to the general public by late spring, Khaldun said that people over the age of 16 should start planning for how and when they will get the vaccine.
“Some people will have mild side effects to the vaccine, such as a low-grade fever, arm soreness or fatigue,” Khaldun said. “That means the body is building up its response to fight off the virus. Residents will need to return for a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after the first dose and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine after the first dose. After getting the first dose of the vaccine, residents will receive a reminder card telling them when to return for the second dose.”
Khaldun said that even with the vaccine, people will still have to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently as experts are still researching whether people who have been vaccinated can still spread the virus to others.
In addition to the vaccine information, Attorney General Dana Nessel warned of scams that have already started.
“Let me provide some examples of the common scams,” she said. “Promises to get vaccines very quickly, so-called treatments that include pills, herbal teas or essential oils, personal testimonials instead of scientific evidence about one vaccine versus another and social media messages, texts or emails about qualifying for clinical trials that claim you can make money. Advertisers offer thousands of dollars to participate, but then what they’ll do is they’ll ask you for personal information up front and then they’ll include a link for you to download a pamphlet, which will open the door to malware on whatever device you’re using.”
While Nessel advised people to not purchase test kits or vaccines online, anyone who gets offered these types of false opportunities should contact a doctor or the Attorney General’s office at 517-335-7622.