To get or not to get vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccines have brought the prospect of relief from the seriousness of the pandemic. However, the related information is ever-changing and there has been false information spreading around. We have invited different experts from CUHK to share with us accurate medical information about COVID-19 vaccines. The first expert we have is Dr. Fung Hong, the Chief Executive Officer of CUHK Medical Centre.
Q: Should the public be vaccinated?
A: Yes, they should. Vaccines can generate an immune response against viruses in the human body. After being vaccinated, the risk of being infected will be greatly reduced. Even if a person is infected with a virus, vaccines can make severe cases less severe and mild cases asymptomatic. When the majority of the community is vaccinated, a Herd Immunity will be reached, minimizing everyone’s risk of being infected.
SARS-CoV-2 is different from the SARS-CoV-1 back in 2003. Although they are both coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-1 is of relatively lower transmissibility but a higher death rate and severity. The transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 is so much stronger that even an asymptomatic infection could spread the virus. The severity and death rate of SARS-CoV-2 is not as high as that of SARS-CoV-1 but it still has a great impact on an individual’s health.
From the public health perspective, COVID-19 has a serious impact not only on an individual’s health, but also on the society. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family. Of course, each person’s health condition is different. It is better for you to consult healthcare professionals for advice before getting vaccinated.
Q: How many people have to get vaccinated to achieve Herd Immunity?
A: According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), “Herd Immunity”, also known as “population immunity”, is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. WHO predicts that “Herd Immunity” can only be generated when at least 65%-70% of the population of one region is vaccinated.
Q: “Vaccine Hesitancy” has been a growing phenomenon in recent years. Why are people hesitant about having a vaccination?
A: The hesitancy over vaccination is not unique to Hong Kong or other regions in Asia, and it does not only happen to COVID-19 vaccines. Every winter, we are striving to publicize flu vaccines, and the response has always been unsatisfactory and we can never reach our intended goal. This hesitation is not simply a matter of how much people know about science, but a mix of different personal experiences, concerns, and beliefs, as well as trust in the government, the pharmaceutical industry and medical authorities.
In order to work this out, we must first enhance the public’s abilities of identifying correct vaccines’ information, so as to avoid being misled by false information. In addition, we have to improve people’s trust towards doctors, and understand that doctors are promoting vaccination with their professional integrity and in the interest of patients.