Why experts say benefits outweigh risks of COVID-19 vaccine

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As many Americans anxiously wait for an approved vaccine against coronavirus, many are also voicing concerns about safety.

It's not bad that people have concerns, and we want people to make informed decisions.

But just like scientists and the government, we'll be able to see all the data and research - and why experts say the benefits outweigh potential risks.

Advisors to the FDA have already started pouring over data for next week's hearing to discuss Pfizer and BioNtech's vaccine against coronavirus.

LET US KNOW: What are your questions about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Doctor Paul Offit at Children's Hospital is one of those advisors. He told JAMA Network it's a process that takes time.

"It's a lot of information that has to be digested. You don't want us to go too fast," Offit said.

Earning public trust will also take time. That's why health officials trying to dispel common myths.

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One such myth is that a vaccine can give you COVID-19.

The CDC says none of the vaccines developed in the United States use the live virus, so that would be impossible.

Another myth: The process was sped up and corners were cut.

But the science behind developing these vaccines has actually been in the works for years.

The part that was sped up was manufacturing. Instead of waiting, the government and vaccine makers took a financial gamble, making millions of doses that would have to be destroyed if clinical trials didn't prove they were safe and effective.

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What is true is we don't know everything about long-term effects.
Doctor Offit says researchers will have to be humble, and constantly monitoring.

But also keep in mind:

"There's another side to this, the choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice," he said. "On its face we are dealing with a pandemic that has brought is to our knees: joblessness, homelessness, food insecurity. If this vaccine if it is like the topline data says, it's a lifesaver."

Health officials recognize there may be more distrust among minority communities. They are working to get the message out and help everyone feel comfortable getting the vaccine when available.
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