By Cara Rinkoff

At the time this edition of The Jewish Veteran went to press, more than 500,000 people had died from the coronavirus. So far, there are vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson approved to protect against COVID-19.

A poll taken in February by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that approximately one-third of Americans either definitely or probably will not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who did not want to receive the vaccine were concerned about side effects, the overall safety of the vaccine, and others simply don’t trust the government.

To stop the spread of coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimates that between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population will need the vaccine. So far, the numbers of those who would get the vaccine are not high enough.

Due to the hesitancy of some individuals to get the vaccine, JWV member and Director of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Dr. Steven Braverman spoke to participants at our National Executive Committee meeting in February.

Braverman urged JWV members to get the vaccine as soon as possible. He also wanted to reassure members about some of the myths they might have heard about the vaccine.

The one Braverman hears most often is that the federal government approved the vaccine too quickly to ensure its safety. Braverman said this is untrue. “These are the most scrutinized vaccines of any vaccines in history,” Braverman said. “The reason it happened so quickly was because it was funded by the government and so folks didn’t have to pause in between all of the different phase(s).” Braverman noted that no shortcuts were taken when it came to scientific oversight of the vaccine production.

Some individuals have also expressed concerns about the long-term risk of the vaccine. Braverman said “anybody who tells you they know the long-term risk of these vaccines, they’re lying, because nobody’s had one for more than five months.” However, Braverman said it is extremely unusual for any vaccine to have long-term side effects. The greatest chance for side effects always comes from “the implementation of the vaccine on people’s autoimmune response which in some folks get turned on more than the body should have an autoimmune response turned on.” But Braverman said this is not something that doctors are seeing with this vaccine in a greater proportion than any other vaccine. He also noted that anyone worried about the long-term effects of the vaccine should be more concerned with the unknown long-term effects of the coronavirus itself.

Braverman also contradicted another theory he’s heard about the coronavirus vaccine, saying there are no small microchips or nanochips in them that can allow the government to track the movements of those who get the shot.
Braverman said he participated in the phase three trial for the Moderna vaccine. He said that
he did not experience any severe side effects from either shot, simply a sore arm and mild fever with the second injection.

When it comes to how the Department of Veterans Affairs is handling distribution of the vaccine, Braverman said it depends on where you live. He said most VA facilities are reserving second doses so people can get it in a timely manner. The policies about who can receive a shot at a VA medical center also varies depending on the state. In most cases, you can only get a shot if you are already receiving care from the VA.

Volume 75. Number 1. 2021