Allegheny County Health Director Hopes to Dispel Vaccine Myths

Dr. Debra Bogen fears misinformation is fueling some people’s hesitancy to get the shots.
03 04 20 New Health Director 18


When it comes to the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Allegheny County, senior citizens lead the way.

According to Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen, 94% of county residents aged 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The percentage drops to 68% among those 50-64 and 60% for those in the 39-49 age group. Of those 20-38, 49% have gotten at least one dose, and the percentage drops to 25% for teenagers aged 16-19.

“But the work is not done, and I believe we can and will do better,” she said during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Since the oldest segment of the population was first in line for the shots, it’s not surprising that such a high percentage is partially vaccinated. Bogen worries that myths about the three vaccines currently authorized by the FDA will make it harder for those in the younger age groups to roll up their sleeves.

Bogen said the most important misconception is that the vaccines were rushed without sufficient time to determine they are safe.

“The science is solid,” she said. “These vaccines are rooted in well-established technologies used to develop other vaccines. They underwent extensive testing in tens of thousands of people, including the county executive and me. They have been now given to millions across the country. They are safe, and certainly far safer than getting COVID-19, which I will remind you, has contributed to the death of nearly 2,000 Allegheny County residents and 75 people in April, alone.”

Bogen also took aim at other myths by emphasizing that none of the vaccines contain microchips or tracking devices, meat or animal products or whole or partial human cells. Also, there is no evidence to suggest the vaccines cause infertility, and research shows all three are highly effective against the COVID variants.

Bogen added that although the state is easing more of its pandemic restrictions at the end of the month, that should not be taken as a signal that the pandemic is over.

“I’ve heard some concerns that people think COVID is over as of May 31, but again our case numbers suggest that is not the case,” she said.

Allegheny County is currently averaging 241 cases per day, down about 88 cases from the prior week.

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