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Dothan doctor answers vaccine hesitancy questions

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Alabama remains one of the lowest states in the nation when it comes to vaccination rates.

The Mayo Clinic reporting 42.9 percent of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated. Doctor Amith Skandhan said the COVID vaccine prevents the severity of cases and protects the community, yourself and family. But people remain hesitant.

“One of the kind of issues that we see is when there is negativity, that’s the loudest right,” Dr. Skandhan said. “So, when you know the vaccines work or the disease treatments which you know are going to work are staying silent, it becomes very difficult.”

He said this hesitancy revolves around unanswered questions about the vaccine itself. He said this can be resolved by starting with answers and addressing the root cause. That being: the general mistrust in the vaccines and a misunderstanding by the spread of misinformation.

“A part of it I believe comes out of fear,” Dr. Skandhan said.

Doctor Skandhan has heard many concerns about the COVID vaccine, starting with “Did it become available too fast?”

“Some of this work for modern day vaccines actually goes back almost a decade or so and we have this information from the last SARS-COVID pandemic which we had,” Dr. Skandhan said. “We also have a lot of information about the modern day vaccines where studies are done on Flu with regards of modern day vaccines, Zika, so there is a lot of information which was already present which we were able to work on.”

Another popular question: “Is there enough data on the vaccine?”

“There is significant data,” Dr. Skandhan said. “Millions of vaccines have been given worldwide, we have studied this extensively, it is still being currently studied, there is so much information on this vaccine, more than any vaccine we have had in history.”

Lastly, “Does the shot cause infertility?”

“The vaccine itself doesn’t cause infertility in men or women,” Dr. Skandhan said. “The vaccine itself does not cause any kinds of issues with pregnancy or to the child.”

These answers lead doctors to ask: why are people not getting vaccinated?

“There is no reason for anyone to not get vaccinated,” Dr. Skandhan said.

Dr. Skandhan said hospitals continue to care for COVID patients, about 90 to 95 percent of them being unvaccinated.

“This wave has particularly been emotionally taxing, not just physically because we know this could have been prevented,” Dr. Skandhan said.

America has lost over 700,00 lives to the virus, and that number continues to rise.

“I think one of the challenges I see when people talk about statistics I hear commonly the you know, ‘the mortality is not so bad, it’s one percent to four percent’ one, I feel it dehumanizes that persons life who died,” Dr. Skandhan said. “Similarly, if you look at what is 1 in 100 mean, what does one percent in 1,000 mean, what does one percent in one million mean, that number changes drastically. Percentages are there for helping us understand statistics, it is not there to just label someone one way or the other.”

The lack of vaccinated people in Alabama is leading to frustration among the healthcare field.

“The frustrating part of this is, this was preventable,” Dr. Skandhan said. “It’s almost like a pandemic of the unvaccinated and this is again further frustrating because you’re dealing with this and you’re having these difficult conversations with family members and trying to address that misinformation at the same time. I think it gets to the health care providers very easily.”

Vaccine hesitancy leads to wasted vaccines. Dr. Skandhan said about 65,000 vaccines expired and had to be discarded in Alabama. He said this is a tragic situation. He encourages people to speak with their doctors and get the right information to make an informed decision on their vaccine status.

Click here to see one of doctors Skandhan’s recent studies with UAB regarding vaccine hesitancy.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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