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Spectrum Health specialist says vaccines are doing exactly what they’re supposed to

“The best way to stay safe is to get vaccinated. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about that,” said Dr. Liam Sullivan with Spectrum Health West Michigan.

We continue to hear about breakthrough COVID-19 infections among the vaccinated, which may have people who were already hesitant about the vaccine feeling even more on the fence. But Dr. Liam Sullivan, an infectious disease specialist with Spectrum Health, says even with these breakthrough cases, the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are all doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

“The best way to stay safe is to get vaccinated. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about that,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Coronavirus cases are heading in the wrong direction across the nation and here in Michigan. Dr. Sullivan says the numbers don’t lie; the areas in the U.S. doing the worst are the areas with the lowest vaccination rates.

“The number one reason that cases and hospitalizations started to decrease in Michigan was through vaccination,” Dr. Sullivan said. “One of the things we saw in patients back in the Spring surge that we had was that they were younger than previous. That continues to be the trend with the Delta variant.”

This latest variant could be as much as 50% more contagious than the original strain, according to Dr. Sullivan, and the Delta Variant was just recently discovered in Kent County.

“Right now, in our hospital, we don’t have a lot of COVID cases, hovering right around 20 to 25 for the last several weeks. That being said, the few COVID cases that I have been seeing are all in younger people and they’ve been very, very sick patients.”

In a recent statement from Spectrum Health, officials say since February of 2021, of the approximate 2,300 patients admitted to Spectrum Health West Michigan hospitals who had or have COVID-19, less than 5% have been fully vaccinated, with the remainder either unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.

While your chances of severe side effects from the vaccine are one in a million, maybe even less, Dr. Sullivan said up to 30% of people infected with coronavirus – hospitalized or not – could see ongoing side effects months after infection. 

“Whether it’s headaches, sever fatigue, body aches, problems concentrating, problems with their sense of taste and smell that linger for months and months and months even after they get over the infection," Dr. Sullivan said. 

Dr. Sullivan also says if no long term side effects from the vaccine show up within 60 days, they won’t.

Right now, data suggest all three approved vaccines in the U.S. give you the protection you need. No booster shots are being recommended at this time.

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