By Sidra Qadri, OD, of Los Angeles, California
1. Lead by example. The first thing an OD can do is get the vaccine yourself. As I know from my experiences working in the refractive surgery world, you need to walk the walk. I got the Pfizer vaccinations; I had minimal reactivity from the first dose, and the second dose reactivity lasted 24 hours.
The faculty at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently stated, “Based on the performance of similar vaccines, the fact that asymptomatic people may be less likely to transmit the coronavirus, and a quickly-growing body of direct evidence from trials and campaigns, we are confident vaccination against COVID-19 reduces the chances of transmitting the virus.” The Pfizer vaccination is reported to show a decrease of 94 percent of asymptomatic spreading of COVID-19.
Join the movement in getting the vaccine and show that we are healthcare workers standing with Dr. Fauci and science.
2. Spread the word to family and friends. I talk about the vaccine with my husband, family, and friends a lot. Any new research or study that comes out I discuss with my family and friends and discuss all the positive results from the vaccine. As we spread our perspective as a health care provider with family and friends, our shared positive experience will help one person and then another.
3. Collaborate with colleagues. I connected with Risa Hoshino, MD, (@dr.risahoshino), who leads the #HCW4science movement on Instagram. There wasn’t a single OD among this group when I joined. We’re sharing the latest and best information as often as we can. I give a lot of credit to Dr. Hoshino for getting this started several months ago and building momentum into the collaborative effort it is today.
4. Spread the word on social media. I post about the vaccine almost daily on my social media (@doctorsidraqadri). I want to keep the discussion going. Out of all the posts and stories I create, I am most passionate about sharing about the vaccine and helping others read all about it. I have healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers as followers on my page and out of all the things I post people react to the vaccine posts the most.
5. Administer vaccine (if allowed in your state). Optometrists in California, Utah, Kentucky and Ohio are now all eligible to administer the vaccine, according to a Review of Optometry report published on Feb. 18, 2021. Why should we volunteer our time to do so? This is our chance to establish ourselves as frontline, essential health care providers. ODs were initially left out of the equation as vaccine administrators, so as those rules begin to evolve, it’s important for ODs to get involved and help others.
Think of the impact you can make. In our large ophthalmology office (Dougherty Laser Vision), our doctors can spread the word among patients. It’s a huge incentive to make the process easier for our patients, who, once we get the vaccine, can get their vaccination during their visit to our office.
6. Debunk misinformation. There’s a lot of misinformation. I like to do my own research as I have a passion for biochemistry, chemistry, and public health. I truly enjoy getting up to date information from Dr. Hoshino as well. A few common myths include:
#1 The vaccines were rushed. MRNA technology has been out there for 30 years but there has never been a similar circumstance. COVID-19 became a global pandemic, and, as a result, vaccine research received global attention and an influx of scientists and funding in this collaborative effort.
#2 The vaccine causes infertility. There have not been any cases to provide this among patients who got the COVID-19 vaccine during or prior to pregnancy.
#3 People die from the vaccine. This is not true; there are people who died from other causes.
#4 If you’ve had COVID-19, you don’t need the vaccine. This is false. You need the immunity and antibodies.
#5 The COVID-19 vaccine triggers allergic reactions. COVID-19 vaccines have rarely caused an allergic reaction. Talk with your PCP if you have concerns about an allergic reaction to this or other vaccines.
7. Believe in science. Keep an evidence-based approach, and never stop learning and making efforts to understand the science. Chances are parts of this cycle will keep repeating as more misconceptions are revealed. We are a critical juncture with the COVID-19 pandemic. While mitigation efforts and early immunizations seem to be driving down the infection rates, it remains a volatile and dangerous virus. For the health of our communities and our practices, we all need to do our part.