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Arizona epidemiologist explains safety, effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

Dr. Omar Gonzalez, a hospital epidemiologist for Dignity Health, encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it is their turn.


As efforts to vaccinate as many Arizonans as possible ramps up, many are still skeptical of the safety and effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the state. 

Dr. Omar Gonzalez, a hospital epidemiologist for Dignity Health in Arizona, has been speaking out and encouraging people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.

There are three vaccines, one developed by Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, available in Arizona to fight COVID-19.

Gonzalez explained there are concerns about how quickly the vaccines were developed and tested. However, the mechanism used to develop the vaccines has been around for years and each step of the process to evaluate how safe and effective the vaccines are were taken. 

Gonzalez was part of the group of Arizona health professionals that looked over the data from studies for each vaccine before they were administrated throughout the state. 

"We have concluded definitely these vaccines are safe for the human body. The technology used is the safer technology that we can tell from the biological and scientific point of view. It is very exciting to have this new technology and all of them have respected seriously the phases of creating a vaccine,” Gonzalez said.  

RELATED: Answering your questions about the 3 COVID-19 vaccines in Arizona

Each vaccine comes with the potential for side effects, however, Gonzalez said this should not deter people from getting vaccinated. 

Some side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and fever.

“The side effects are expected in every vaccine period. These ones, which are new vaccines, we have a lot of attention on the side effects," Gonzalez said. 

He explained the majority of people will experience mild side effects if any. Severe reactions to the vaccines are very rare. 

RELATED: Moderna launches COVID-19 vaccine trial for young children

When asked about some people worrying about the potential side effects, Gonzalez gave some perspective. He said all three vaccines will most likely reduce hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 complications.  

“If I am the patient and I say ‘give me the vaccine that is going to prevent me from being severely ill to be in the hospital or dying. That’s what I want," Gonzalez said. 

“There is no vaccine that is perfect. There is no 100% efficacyThe perfect vaccine doesn’t exist. The closer we get to a very good vaccine, the closer to perfection is something that we look for," he added. 

See how far we have come during the pandemic with our Crisis in Care: Looking Back at COVID-19 Youtube Playlist.