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Mayo offers vaccine information

FAIRMONT — Got questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? You may want to take advantage of a Vaccination Webinar with Mayo Clinic Leaders from noon to 1 p.m. Friday. James Hebl, M.D., regional vice president, Mayo Clinic Health System, and Eric Gomez, M.D., infectious diseases, Mayo Clinic Health System, will discuss myths and facts about the new vaccine followed by a Q&A session.

The community forum will be held over Zoom, and registration will be required. During the presentation, participants can submit questions via slido.com using the slido code MCHSCONNECT.

Hebl explained the importance of the meeting, as well as some of the topics that will be covered.

“We understand there’s a lot of questions in the communities we partner with across south-central and southwestern Minnesota related to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. “Previously we’ve held a variety of different community stakeholder events on COVID-19 and the pandemic itself, but we thought it was time to have a session primarily focused on the vaccine.

“There’s so many questions floating around out there, a lot of myths and mistruths. Our goal on Friday is to provide a session that will provide factual information on the vaccine.”

Some of the information covered by the event will include what the vaccine is and is not, the implications of the vaccine to patients, and what risks and benefits are associated with receiving the vaccine. However, Hebl explains that one big question will not be answered during the event.

“We do not intend for it to be a discussion on when the vaccine will be made available to the public in Fairmont,” he said. “We don’t have that information, and it is the Minnesota Department of Health that is responsible for a public rollout of the vaccine.

“We don’t have control or influence over that. What we want to do is be able to provide information and answer questions of our communities with regard to the vaccine.”

One topic that will be covered is whether or not the vaccine is safe due to the seemingly fast production and rollout period.

“We’ll describe how the approval process happened for the vaccine, and why it is extremely safe,” Hebl said. “It is no different than any other vaccine that has been developed, despite the short timeline. There were no shortcuts that were taken.

“I myself have received the vaccine,” he said. “We’re still vaccinating healthcare workers, but as soon as it’s available to the general public my family will be first in line. So it is very safe.”

Another topic of interest covered will be the short and long term results of the rollout, and the level of effectiveness for the vaccine itself.

“For comparison, the measles vaccine is about 98 percent effective and there’s still occasional cases of measles that will pop up around the U.S, particularly in communities that choose not to get vaccinated. So there is always going to be that risk.

“The vaccine is not 100 percent effective which means that for every 100 people that receive the vaccine, five of them will not receive the protective benefits. There will still be cases of COVID-19 that will occur, but with regard to “getting back to normal” and stopping the spread of the pandemic, that will be based solely on at which point we get herd immunity. We know we need to get about 80 to 85 percent of the country vaccinated or who have received natural immunity from already having the disease and becoming immune now.”

Hebl did note that things are changing worldwide that may incentivize people to get the vaccine as soon as they can.

“There’s a lot of things that are being discussed out there,” he said. “In Europe, they’re giving folks a vaccination card.

“Australian Airlines and some of the other global airlines are going to make you prove that you’ve got the vaccine if you want to fly in 2021. Large sporting events or concerts may want you to prove that you’ve got the vaccine before you go.

“I’m not sure where society as a whole is going to take it, but I would say there are a lot of questions that have to be asked and answered.”

Those interested in attending the event can log in at mayoclinichealthsystem.org/classes-and-events/mankato-covid-vaccination-forum or

search for the COVID-19 Vaccination Community forum Webinar at MayoClinicHealthSystem.org

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