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Valley College’s vaccine Town Hall provides clarity

A COVID-19 forum was hosted by Valley College President Barry Gribbons and joined by Professor Emeritus of Microbiology Larry Nakamura and UCLA Department of Medicine’s Dr. Keith Norris.

By Justyn Frutiz, Staff Writer

The March 22 Town Hall presentation on COVID-19 vaccines held by Dr. Keith Norris (bottom) was moderated by Valley College President Barry Gribbons (left) and Professor Larry Nakamura (right). (Screenshot by Justyn Frutiz/The Valley Star)

Dr. Keith Norris held a presentation that covered topics ranging from COVID-19 in minority communities to benefits and myths of the vaccines during last Monday’s Town Hall.

The event was on March 22 at 4 p.m. and lasted for roughly an hour. Norris — who works in the UCLA department of medicine — gave a detailed lecture on the vaccine and the effects as well as resources and information for getting vaccinated. The forum was moderated by Valley College President Barry Gribbons and Professor Larry Nakamura.

Some key takeaways from Norris’ presentation are the fact that hospitalization and death rates are 2-4 times higher in communities of color, there is a lot of misinformation about the vaccine on social media and the side effects of COVID are worse than the side effects of the vaccine. He also used the presentation to show the differences of each vaccine and their effectiveness. Norris also noted that while vaccines have different levels of effectiveness in preventing any symptoms of COVID, all three have over a 95 percent rate in preventing any COVID hospital admission or death.

“That was unexpected and amazing,” said Norris.. “The flu vaccine is usually 40-60 percent effective.”

Norris also took time to disprove some common myths and conspiracy theories about the virus and the vaccine like vaccine altering DNA, 5G phones spreading coronavirus and the vaccine giving a person coronavirus. Side effects are something else he brought up during this lecture. Local pain, fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia are the most present in the three vaccines, according to the presentation.

“The side effects are real but that means your body is creating this large immune response frequently and so you feel those side effects as a result,” said Norris.

The forum opened up for questions in the YouTube chat after Norris wrapped up the lecture. One student asked if they could see their grandma after they got the second dose of the vaccine.

Norris responded with a smile, “Absolutely and have a great time. Go see her, hug her, spend time with her and you should be confident and comfortable that she’ll be protected.”

Another question asked was about the implications of students and faculty who decide not to get the vaccine in time for fall.

Norris replied, “The implication is continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. We can do prevention, preventive measures and as more and more people take the vaccine and therefore the spreading of the virus gets less and less, it will also start to protect people who are not vaccinated. That's what we call herd immunity.”

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