COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine

The new COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are being rolled out but they are being met with skepticism from the general population. Staten Island Community News decided to reach out to Dr. Pooja Shah, an infectious disease doctor in Edison, NJ for a Q&A to discuss some concerns that people may have about the vaccine.

What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work?

  1. These are our first mRNA vaccines (both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s). An mRNA vaccine is a different type of vaccine.
    • The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is not a live attenuated vaccine.
    • It contains the genetic information used to make the SARS-COV2 spike protein.
    • This spike protein is part of the virus, which attaches to the human cells. It will not cause COVID 19 to occur.
    • Once this spike protein is created, it causes the immune system (our body’s defense system) to make antibodies against the virus. Antibodies are what we need to fight off any infection in our body. This is what will also protect you from the virus.
    • What is important to know is this mRNA will not
      enter the nucleus of the cell (where our DNA genetic material is kept) so does not affect your DNA at all.
    • It is also known to rapidly break down, so the possibilities of long-term side effects are reduced.
    • 2 doses are needed for it to work against the virus

Efficacy of the COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine:

How effective is it?

  1. The Pfzier vaccine showed 95% efficacy rate after the second dose
  2. The Moderna vaccine showed 94% efficacy rate after the second dose

How long has this type of vaccine been researched?

mRNA vaccines have been researched for over a decade.

How were they able to develop and produce the vaccine so quickly while historically it took so long for other vaccines to be developed?

  1. mRNA vaccines have been studied before with other viruses
    in the past, such as the flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus
  2. Last year, scientists began working on the mRNA instructions for
    cells to build the spike protein needed for a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.
  3. Also, the US vaccine system ensures that all vaccines are safe:
  • It is illegal for manufacturers to skip steps in the vaccine development stages. They are super cautious to make sure everything is done properly.
  • After a vaccine has been studied and examined, it goes through the FDA. The FDA reviews all the phases of the studies.
  • Manufactures will still monitor a vaccine effectiveness and side-effects. The FDA also reviews that information.

How do we know it is safe even though we haven’t had extensive and long-term trials and studies conducted on it?

  1. Thousans of people have already received it. Clinical trials set up around the world have good data.
  2. Most people report common side effects:
    • mild to moderate injection site reactions, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and joint pain.
    • Most of the symptoms occur after the second dose.
  3. Unfortunately, it is hard to say what the long-term effects are. It is important to point out that we are even still learning what the long-term effects of Covid 19 are.

How can we encourage people to take the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine?

The COVID-19 disease itself has a lot of effects on the body. The
symptoms vary from person to person. It is hard to know what the long-term effects are but we are learning about them. It is important that we take the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for a couple of reasons:

  1. Vaccines are a safer way to build protection against germs and
  2. A vaccine will help prevent and reduce the severity of the disease.
  3. More vaccinate people protected from the virus will help reduce the spread of the disease.
  4. There is a chance you might still get COVID 19 after being
    vaccinated, but it should prevent you from becoming seriously ill or
    developing serious complications.
  5. If you are still unsure about the vaccine, I highly recommend discussing it with your physician to get more details and help answer any questions you may have.

Do I still need to wear a mask after I take the vaccine?

Yes, for now. Continue to wear a mask, use hand hygiene (wash
hands frequently with soap or alcohol swabs when appropriate) and social
distance even after receiving the vaccine. People are being vaccinated based on a vaccine rollout program/vaccine distribution plan. It is not sure how long the immunity against the virus will last.


Nicole Malliotakis is Unfit to Serve

It’s been just over one week since Nicole Malliotakis took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States as a new member of Congress but it took her only three days to violate that oath with her actions on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 6th.  Her actions on that day and every day since have demonstrated her inability to effectively fulfill the position to which the people of NY-11 in Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn elected her. Her views are incompatible with democracy.  She must immediately resign.

Congresswoman Malliotakis was an NYS Assemblymember for many years, where her tenure was unremarkable.  Her attempt to become mayor of NYC was met with sound defeat but she remained popular in her home district, and across Staten Island.

The congresswoman had distanced herself from the president in the past when it was advantageous to her chances of becoming mayor. This past year when she ran for Congress she went all-in on Trump.  She sought his endorsement and sought out his base supporters knowing full well the scope of Trump’s racism, bigotry, and lawlessness.  

Perpetuating Conspiracies

Long before the events of this week, in pursuit of her election win, Congresswoman Malliotakis perpetuated election conspiracy theories and lies, spreading false news fertilizer to her rabid base.  Day in and day out, chum was cast into the water to attack Congressman Rose, BLM, Vice President Biden, and election integrity itself.

With her recent elevation to the national stage as a member of Congress, however, it has become apparent how woefully unprepared she was to understand the real consequences of decisions made in that role and how the weight of her words and actions in Congress would have lasting effects here in NY-11 and across the country.

January 6th

January 6th is the day determined in our Constitution where the Senate counts the electoral votes and certifies the winner of the presidential election. On that day, Republicans planned in both the Senate and the House to challenge the certification of electoral votes in numerous states.  They did this on the false premise that there were “voting irregularities.”    

The Republican arguments made on the floor were flagrant lies because dozens of courts in numerous states have previously heard challenges to the election and all have been summarily dismissed.  Courts asked for evidence of fraud and Trump’s attorneys had to admit – under threat of perjury – that there was none.  

States performed audits, hand recounts were done, all with no change in the determination.  Vice President Biden won the election.  The electoral college voted and the states then certified the results.  From there those votes were sent to the Capitol, where the votes were to be counted and certified.  Those votes are the voices of 81 million voters who made a choice for President-elect Biden.  Those boxes of votes contained the will of the electorate.  

At the exact moment Republicans were beginning to make their fraudulent arguments on the House and Senate Floor, domestic terrorists, under direct orders from President Trump, breached the Capitol and led a bloody insurrection that resulted in 5 deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.  

The point and purpose of Republican objection and the goals of the insurrectionists were exactly the same – to stop the certification count and subvert democracy.  They are all on the same side.

Congresswoman Malliotakis had an opportunity to change her vote.  During the violent attempted coup, as she huddled with dozens of lawmakers in fear for their lives, she could – and should- have realized that this vote was wrong.  

A Lapse in Character and Morals

The congresswoman should have realized that trying to overturn the will of millions of voters was wrong. She should have realized that turning America into the very dictatorship she claims her mother fled as a child, was wrong.  She should have known it was wrong to be on the same side of history as violent white supremacists, who were hunting for lawmakers in the Capitol with weapons and zip cuffs, and who set up gallows with a noose screaming that they wanted to hang Vice President Pence.  Nicole Malliotakis had time for clarity of thought but she decided, as she emerged from her hiding place, that she would continue to subvert democracy.  

This was not a lapse in judgment but a lapse in character and morals.  Her decision was a complete inability to understand the basic democratic principles that frame our government.

Serving as a representative requires exercising good judgment. Political parties should and do have valuable discussions about their differences in policy opinion but this vote was not a policy opinion.

Arguing over a tax rate is policy, not whether or not America remains a democracy.  We cannot have a functioning political party that does not believe in the premise of democracy.

When Congresswoman Malliotakis cast that vote, she once again, in a recorded vote, perpetuated lies that got people killed. There is absolutely nothing Nicole can say or do going forward that can remedy the seditious acts she has already committed. And it has become abundantly clear through her statements that she has no remorse and does not find fault in her decisions.   

For this reason, she is unfit to represent the people of the 11th Congressional District and should resign immediately.  Should she not resign, she should be expelled.  This country has no place for representatives who do not believe in democracy, and who do not uphold the oath they swear to our Constitution, our laws, and our people.