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Oschner physician sheds light on how Pfizer's COVID vaccine is expected to affect the pandemic

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BATON ROUGE - The battle against novel coronavirus continues to dominate the topic of conversation among community leaders across the globe, and so as COVID-fighting vaccines emerge so do the frequency of terms such as 'herd immunity' and 'population immunity' in general conversation.

But, what does do these terms mean and how does the new Pfizer vaccine work once administered? 

Dr. Brandon Weeks of Ochsner Hospital in Baton Rouge touched on these topics during a Monday, Dec. 14 interview with WBRZ's Rae'ven Jackson.

Dr. Weeks defined herd immunity by saying, "Basically the more people that get the vaccine the better, because then more people will be protected, less people will be sick."

"And we also get herd immunity when people get infections and are cured from it. But the key with the vaccine is we can accelerate that herd immunity so that way it stops the spread quicker." 

So, as Dr. Weeks explained above, ‘herd immunity,’ also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.

Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.

After explaining herd immunity, Dr. Weeks went on to address whether or not the vaccine is immediately effective in fighting COVID-19.

"So unfortunately it's not instant," Dr. Weeks explained. "And that's the same with a lot of vaccines. As soon as you get it you are not automatically immune."

He added, "So, it's going to take a little while to get that immunity. So, really, we get the second vaccine in a couple of weeks, two to three weeks, and then we still won't have the immunity for a little bit longer after that. So, we've still got to wear the masks and take all of the other precautions. This is only a part of the puzzle."

As Ochsner Baton Rouge awaits receipt of its vaccines doses on Monday morning, its New Orleans counterpart received an initial shipment from Pfizer shortly before 8 a.m.

Immediately after unpacking the doses, healthcare workers began inoculating Ochsner New Orleans' hospital personnel, who became the first in the state to be vaccinated. 

Ochsner invites the public to view additional information related to Pfizer's COVID vaccine on its website, which is here.


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