Infectious disease experts continue to urge Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Doctors are continuing to urge people to get vaccinated or risk getting COVID-19.

Vaccine hesitancy is still a big issue, with some holding out for potential incentives, while others are still worried about safety.

The latest data shows about 52% of all Pennsylvanians have received their first dose and 44% of those 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

“It’s much safer to get the vaccine than it is to get COVID and if they don’t get the vaccine they will get COVID,” said Dr. John Goldman, infectious disease specialist with UPMC Pinnacle.

But the number of people getting vaccinated in Pennsylvania has been declining since the beginning of April. Goldman says that’s concerning.

“If there’s a lot of virus circulating it’s going to mutate rapidly and it will be a chance, it will become more infectious, it will get around the vaccine,” Goldman said.

Goldman says the vaccine isn’t foolproof, but breakthrough cases are few and far between.

He had two patients who were fully vaccinated and thought they had mild allergies.

“Because we knew that they were exposed, we tested them,” Goldman said. “They in fact had COVID but it in fact was much more mild than the typical case of the flu.”

But it could have been much worse without the shots. He says those who don’t get the vaccine and contract COVID have a one in 200 chance of dying.

He doesn’t want it to get to the point where “Something bad happens to someone they know and then suddenly they’ll be willing to get the vaccine.”

It’s why UPMC is vaccinating those in hard to reach communities, the homebound and the homeless.

But Goldman says more needs to be done to get people over the hump of hesitancy, no matter the reason.

“I’ve known people who didn’t want to get the vaccine early on but now that they’ve seen that a lot of people have been vaccinated, that the vaccine is safe, they’re now willing to get the vaccine,” Goldman said.

Goldman says if we keep up the current pace, we could have 90% of Pennsylvanians vaccinated by the end of July.

One big incentive is that Governor Wolf said the mask mandate will go away when we hit 70%.

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