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Common COVID-19 misconceptions: Local doctors speak out

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Jan 24, 2022

As we continue to push through yet another wave of COVID-19, false information about the virus also continues to spread. KSBY spoke with local doctors to try and clear up some confusion.

“Our immune system is not going for an Academy Award, so there is no best immunity,” said Dr. Kathryn Haran, the Chair of Emergency Medicine for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

One rumor, or at least exaggeration, is that being infected with COVID-19 gives you better immunity than a vaccine. While an infection can give you 2-3 months of immunity, Dr. Haran says that notion is inaccurate.

“If you have had COVID, you do have some immunity to it,” said Dr. Haran. “However, you’re seeing a lot higher antibody levels in your immune system and a bigger response from your immune system from the vaccine, more so than natural immunity.”

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, it was thought that letting a large part of the population be infected with COVID-19 would allow us to achieve herd immunity and help eradicate the virus.

Another local doctor says with the way things are now, that’s not going to happen.

“We’re not going to obtain herd immunity with just people getting the infection on top of who’s getting vaccinated. I don’t see that happening,” said Thomas Vendegna, MD, Chief Medical Officer of French Hospital. “If these waves come on every 2-4 months, you’re going to see less people infected the next wave. The bumps are going to get lower and lower, but we aren’t going to achieve herd immunity that way. We would if people would rush out and get vaccinated.”

For those already infected with COVID-19, Merck and Pfizer both have antiviral drugs – both limited in availability – that can help with illness, but the drugs are reactionary, not proactive.

“The access to the drug is very poor. It doesn’t block infection, it doesn’t prevent an infection, so it’s not in place of a vaccine. You’re still going to get sick,” said Vendegna.

The mainstream medical community has been forced to battle fake information on many social media sites. One of the biggest misnomers is that taking the drug Ivermectin is an effective way to treat COVID-19.

If something doesn’t sound right, Dr. Haran says you should keep scrolling and listen to professionals with years of schooling and experience.

“I have seen some ridiculous things posted on Facebook and different social media sites. If you are going to take advice about COVID, please take advice from your doctor,” said Dr. Haran.

Both healthcare professionals urge you to get vaccinated, if possible, and to continue wearing (N95 OR KN95) masks as a precaution.