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AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

Experts answer your questions related to COVID-19

Coronavirus Vaccines: Reality vs. Rumor

Bill Walsh: Hello, I am AARP Vice President, Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you'd like to hear this live event in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. (Espanola) AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. In all states people 18 and older are now eligible for a vaccine and access is improving across the country. More than 84 percent of people aged 65 and older have received at least one dose. While this is encouraging, some people are still struggling with the decision about whether to sign up for a vaccine or not. This comes at a time when new variants of COVID-19 continue to spread along with misinformation about the virus and the vaccines. In fact, we have seen a proliferation of rumors, outright falsehoods and scams that have left many Americans wondering whom they should trust in the face of this ongoing public health crisis. This evening, we'll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

If you've participated in one of our live events, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you'd like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you'd like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. (Espanola) If you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your questions in the comments section.

We have some outstanding guests joining us today whom we'll introduce in a moment. This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

Now I'd like to welcome our guests. Joan Lunden is a journalist, bestselling author and TV host. In 2020, she signed on as a MediaWise ambassador, a group of prominent journalists and media influencers who help promote the MediaWise mission, which is to empower people of all ages to be more critical consumers of content online. Joan also serves as one of the lead instructors for the MediaWise for Seniors fact-checking 101, online digital media literacy course. Welcome, Joan.

Joan Lunden: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here with all of you tonight. Thanks for asking me.

Bill Walsh: All right, we're delighted to have you. Also joining us is Dr. Lipi Roy. She is the medical director of COVID Isolation and Quarantine Sites at Housing Works, a nonprofit organization in New York City. She's a Forbes contributor and a former MSNBC and NBC News medical contributor. Welcome to the program, doctor.

Bill Walsh: All right. Let's get started with the discussion. Joan, we're going to go ahead and start with you. We're bombarded every day with COVID-19 news and information, and it's difficult at times to differentiate reality versus rumors. So let me ask you, what is the difference between misinformation and disinformation, and why is this pandemic such a fertile ground for both of those?

Joan Lunden: You know, I think that it would all boil down to intent. Misinformation is just false information or maybe out-of-context information that almost gets shared by mistake. You know, think of your aunt or your uncle or your cousin or whoever; they see something that sounds so great, a miracle cure for COVID. And so with all good intentions, they want to share it with everybody they know on Facebook. But while they were well meaning, and maybe not even aware of the fact that they were sharing false information, they do it.

But disinformation is a whole different thing. Disinformation is false information that is shared on purpose. And it's shared to sometimes have a scam, you know, when we saw, and a lot of people might have experienced, some of these things that we're going to talk about tonight at the beginning of the pandemic, scammers could come along with all these cures, of course, for your money. And then also, when the vaccine started to rollout, there was a huge scam going on where they would trick people into giving personal information and sometimes their hard-earned money to get a better place in line to get that vaccine because everyone was just so desirous of getting the vaccine.

So all of this has made for really fertile ground, but then we also have the advent of technology and social media and algorithms and we've all been in our homes, also. So you have that desire to connect with other people. You put this all together and it really is like the perfect storm because people are dealing with something that's so unprecedented and so unknown that they're looking for something to make sense of it all. And sometimes they'll latch onto things that aren't real, and they unknowingly, unwittingly share it with others.

Bill Walsh: Right. Well, thanks for that, Joan. A quick follow-up. I wonder if you can share some examples of pandemic-specific misinformation that has been harmful.

Joan Lunden: Oh, my gosh, there are so many. You know, when the COVID stimulus checks first came out, there were a lot of different ways that people were being scammed. I mean, just as an example, there was one that a used car dealership was sending out fake checks to people that could only, of course, be used at this one used car dealership. And it really got the people to engage, and then they convinced them to buy cars, thinking they were getting this amount of money off on the car. I mean, that's just kind of to give you an idea how people have dreamed up all these different ways. But the most important or the most harmful viral misinformation has really come from all these posts that have falsely claimed that people are dying. Thousands of people are dying from the vaccine and that is simply not true.

You know, sometimes these things come from a little seed of a report from somewhere. But they've been proven now definitively not to be true, but when people see that there are some people got blood clots with the J&J, for instance, six people out of 6 million people had these blood clots, which of course made everyone come to a pause with that vaccine. Now they've gone ahead with it. And by the way, all those six people did not die. But all it takes is something like that for that person wondering if they're going to go and get vaccinated to say, well, you know, then they're all bad.

And lately, I've seen some about that the mRNA, that's how this virus is made, unlike the flu virus and some of the ones from the past, it's a really unique new way to do a vaccine. And there have been a lot of articles that that can cause infertility. Well I'm here to tell you that that's not true. Evidence has firmly shown that that is not the case, but that came about because I think it was a German epidemiologist last December, if I get this right, he came up with the theory that the COVID-19 vaccines might make a woman's body reject a little protein that's connected to the placenta. And, therefore, his thought was that because that little genetic code of the placenta, that it shares as vague similarity to the spike in the protein on the COVID-19. And he said, well, if vaccines cause our bodies to create antibodies to protect us from COVID-19, his thought was that they could also make antibodies to reject the placenta.

Now you might be saying right now, well, that's sounds ridiculous, but it was his theory, and he put it out there and it's now been disproven. But in the meantime, people hear this and they latch onto it, and it gets shared over and over and over again. How about the one where there are microchips? No, wait, Bill Gates put the microchips into the vaccines which, you know, do I even need to try to defend that one?

And one of the last ones that I've seen lately is that they have aluminum in them and that this is going to harm us. Well, aluminum actually has been used in some other vaccines, and here's where, you know, you see these stories. Not this one. It is not. You can go to the FDA website, you can look at all the ingredients in the Pfizer and in the Moderna; it's simply not in there or any of the other crazy things that they say are in there. You can go and you can look, the facts are right there. And by the way, the aluminum is not used in the amount that would harm us, even in those other vaccines, to all you anti-vacciners, because aluminum's in the earth. So everything we eat comes from the earth, and we eat way more aluminum on a daily basis than is in any of those vaccines. Bottom line though, there's no aluminum in the COVID-19 vaccine, in any of them.

Bill Walsh: All right, well, thank for that.

Joan Lunden: But the facts are there.

Bill Walsh: Yeah, well, thank you for that, Joan. It's remarkable how these rumors get started and how they spread. And you touched on one I wanted to ask Dr. Roy about. Dr. Roy, a small number of voices, as Joan was referring to, continue to suggest that a high number of deaths have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines, more than 3,000 according to some. Is this true? Can you talk about this rumor?

Lipi Roy: So, first of all, Bill, I just want to say this time I remembered to unmute my microphone. And secondly, how many times have we said, it's like the saying from 2020, right? Can you unmute? And secondly, I would love to recruit Joan Lunden to the Housing Works medical team because yesterday, I mean, I just gave a presentation to one of our clinics about vaccine misinformation and myths. And one of them is exactly what Joan just mentioned about women's fertility being linked to the vaccines, and what Joan was referring to, actually it's called cincitin 1, which is similar to the spike protein on the coronavirus, but they're two very different proteins. So yes, it's involved with placental development anyway. Thank you, Joan, for saying all of that.

And to answer your question, Bill, I mean, that is yet another example of misinformation. These vaccines are incredibly safe. And just to take a step back for all your audience members — vaccines are medications that undergo the highest safety standards, more than any other medication that's in your medicine cabinet right now. And the reason for that is because vaccines are designed for healthy people, healthy children and adults. As a result, they have to undergo the highest safety standards. The vaccines have not been associated with deaths, and if anything, what they've been found to have is to be not only safe, but extremely effective. The mRNA vaccines, the Pfizer BioNTech one and the Moderna one are like 95 percent effective. And the J&J one is about anywhere from like 72 to 86 percent, 72 for the overall population and 86 for severe disease prevention or reduction in risk.

So these vaccines are incredibly effective and safe. And the three things that they all equally do is reduce your risk for severe disease, hospitalization and death. That's ultimately what you want. And just as a reminder, Bill, let's remember COVID-19 pandemic is very much present here in the United States. We have mutants coming in from other countries that are already here or mutant strains, I should say. And remember, this is a disease that has claimed over 500, almost 590,000 lives in this country alone. It's a disease for which we have moderately effective treatment and certainly no cure, but we have effective prevention techniques — masks, distancing and now multiple vaccine candidates, Bill.

Bill Walsh: So Dr. Roy, you just did a good job of giving us some really great facts and figures about the vaccines. What is your best argument in favor of getting a vaccine to somebody who's still resistant?

Lipi Roy: I'm so glad you asked that, Bill. This is a conversation that I have literally every day at Housing Works, at the Harm Reduction Clinic where I work, at the Bronx, and at vaccination sites where I work throughout New York City, not only to my patients, the general public, but also to our staff. We have several health care workers who are nurses, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, who still decline to get the vaccine. So what I really emphasize are that in human history, the most successful public health intervention has been vaccines. They have saved millions of lives. We, right now in the 2000s, are not really familiar with the fact that there was a time in history when infectious diseases killed the majority of people, and in certain parts of the world still do. So it's a miracle of science that we live in an age and in a location where we don't die from tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, influenza. Granted these are all diseases that still kill people, but drastically low numbers because of vaccination and hygiene, clean water, things like that as well. So the key messages, Bill, the vaccines are safe, they're effective and we really have no cure for this virus, this novel coronavirus, which we are still learning about every day, Bill.

Bill Walsh: OK, Dr. Roy, thank you so much for that. Joan, let's turn back to you. How did decisions to delay or pause some of the vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson in the United States or the AstraZeneca in Europe, make it easier to spread misinformation? Are there examples of misinformation we might recognize?

Joan Lunden: I think we're living in a world of see, I told you so. And everybody, because of algorithms, gets their own set of facts. You know we watch different newscasts depending on our health or political beliefs, and when we google things on our computer, our computers learn what we think. And by just what we've gone to over and over again, we each live in our own little silo of facts. And when somebody is concerned about getting the vaccine, or is believing some of these myths that are going around, when all of a sudden a vaccine gets put on pause, that's the I-told-you-so moment, because they're looking for something to validate their belief.

So, you know, this is an unprecedented health crisis. And it's the first time we've had a health crisis at the same time that we've had technology and social media, and you put those things together with the science constantly changing and changing, it's difficult for the general public even just to keep up with the latest news. And when they see that a pause like that happened, and then they see it unpaused, it just leaves people in kind of a free fall. And you know, obviously, well, I say obviously, but the CDC and the FDA, they would not have carelessly put that back in use. And yet there are still people that are completely convinced that it's not safe to take it.

Bill Walsh: Who was it, Mark Twain, who said that a lie can make its way around the earth before the truth gets a chance to stand up out of its chair. I think that's only accelerated in the internet age, hasn't it?

Well, it's now time to address some of your questions about vaccines, reality versus rumors, with Joan Lunden and Dr. Lipi Roy. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I'd like now to bring in my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, to help facilitate your calls and questions from Facebook and YouTube. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks so much, Bill. Delighted to be here for this important conversation.

Bill Walsh: All right. Who do we have first on the line?

Jean Setzfand: The first caller is Matt from New York.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Matt, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Matt: OK, my question is this. We've heard of people who were vaccinated, such as eight members of the New York Yankee baseball team, and others who subsequently tested positive. And, quite frankly, I don't trust the New York City or New York State government. Should I be tested despite the fact that I was vaccinated?

Bill Walsh: Dr. Roy, do you want to field that question?

Lipi Roy: Yeah, thank you so much for asking that. And yes, that has raised concerns among a lot of people. And as the caller pointed out, not only members of the New York Yankees, Bill Maher, many other celebrities, but many of my own patients have said, ‘hey, Doc, I don't want to get the vaccine because I heard that you can get vaccinated and still get COVID.’ So it's not that the scientists have lied, the CDC has not lied, they've been very clear in terms of what exactly the vaccine does. The vaccine significantly reduces asymptomatic infection and transmission. So, in other words, your risk of getting COVID is significantly reduced once you're vaccinated. In addition, your risk of transmitting the virus to somebody else is also significantly reduced. But remember, no prevention measure in all of science and medicine is 100 percent. So you could get the vaccine and still test positive, which is why they're still recommending wearing a mask. And they're recommending that everyone else around you gets vaccinated because then their risk of getting the virus is significantly reduced.

The key thing to remember is that once you get vaccinated, if you still test positive, your risk of actually getting severe disease, hospitalization or dying from the virus is significantly reduced, like about 85 to 95 percent, Bill.

Bill Walsh: OK, thank you for that, Dr. Roy. Let's go back to the line. Jean, who do we have next?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Martha from Texas.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Martha, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Martha: Yes, hi. I heard the lady, I think it was Joan, said that six people caught the, I mean, I'm sorry, had blood clots on the J&J vaccine, and all of them lived. I heard on the news that one died and one was on life support.

Bill Walsh: I think, I believe that's correct. Joan, did you want to clarify that?

Joan Lunden: Yeah. I just said that they all did not die. One did die and one is, I don't know if she's on life support, but I know she's in the hospital. But you know, you have to look at population health, public health. You have to look at this globally, because we can do things here in this country, but if we don't help some of the other countries, this pandemic is not going to be over until we can control it all around the globe. And if you can't get in front of it, then it becomes something called an endemic. And, you know, this is new and unprecedented that we've ever had virus that is virulent. So when you're looking at a vaccine, and you give it to 6 million people who are then vaccinated, and they won't get sick and die, and you get six people who got blood clots, and four of them weren't significant, once again, I think it was the Dr. just said that nothing is 100 percent, but the goal is to try to vaccinate globally. And by the way, if you drive a car, you're much more likely to get into an accident, a fatal accident, than taking one of these vaccines. If you fly, I mean, you can name 10 other things that you might do without ever thinking about them, that puts you much more at risk of dying than taking the vaccine. And Dr., you can please correct me if I'm incorrect, but I'm pretty sure I've got my facts straight there.

Lipi Roy: Nope, Joan, you're absolutely right. And let me just also clarify to Martha that as of like I think maybe yesterday, over 8 million doses of J&J have now been given out worldwide, and there's 15 to 20 cases of this rare blood clot. But just look at those numbers. 15 out of 8 million. I mean there are medications that everyday people take that increase their risk of getting a clot, like say oral contraceptives where it's like one in 5,000. So I just want people to remember that these side effects are extremely rare, and look, your everyday Tylenol which you take for pain and fever, it's the leading cause of acute liver failure. Ibuprofen can cause kidney failure and GI bleeding. So I just want people to remember, just put things into perspective.

Bill Walsh: Right, well, thank you both for that. Jean, let's take another call.

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Charlie from Delaware.

Bill Walsh: Charlie, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Charlie: I had heard that in six months or in the fall we've got to get a booster shot to keep these shots effective. Is that true?

Bill Walsh: That's a question we hear a lot. Dr. Roy, do you have an answer?

Lipi Roy: Well, Charlie, the short answer is we don't know. But it's looking that way, that we're probably going to need a booster shot. If you listened to Dr. Fauci on television, he said multiple times that based on the data, again, we don't have very long-term data on any of these new vaccine candidates, but we may very well need a booster shot at either maybe six months or one year. But keep paying attention to the news and the data from the CDC and FDA. We'll find out soon enough.

Bill Walsh: You know, it strikes me listening to the questions we've had so far, that there still is a lot of misinformation, a little uncertainty out there about who to believe, what sources to believe. I wonder if Joan and Dr. Roy, you could very quickly give us some idea about how ordinary consumers are supposed to be able to verify some of the things that they're hearing.

Joan Lunden: Well I think that's the reason why all the misinformation spreads so quickly because people do have that desire. They want to know what's real. And unfortunately, we have had over the last year, a breakdown in trust and that's probably been, well, the virus is the virus, but I mean, that's also been one of the things that has attacked us. You know, the World Health Organization says we're not only dealing with an unprecedented pandemic, but we're also dealing with an unprecedented info-demic. And that really is an excessive amount of information that's online and offline, but that's filled with all of the misinformation, and it breaks down people's trust in science and the media. And that's an incredibly dangerous thing at any time, but certainly during a pandemic, against a virulent virus. So I just think that it's going to take a while, I think, and you know, for me having been in journalism for 40 years, I'm so saddened by that. And it's going to really, I think, take a lot to try to build back that trust. But you know, Dr. Roy, I'm sure you'll add in here, trust in the science is so important in trying to accomplish public health.

Lipi Roy: Yeah, Bill, can I just add. So I love the sentiment that Joan just made. You know, since the start of this pandemic, which has now been over well over a year, what has really troubled, frustrated, and frankly angered me and my fellow health care professionals, medical and public health professionals, is the fact that this disease, this infectious outbreak that does not discriminate, was politicized from day one. Not just here in the United States, but other countries as well. And as a result, it has adversely affected lifesaving therapies and interventions to frankly millions of people in the United States and worldwide. That's really unfortunate. Leadership matters. Leadership from our elected officials all the way down to our local community members. So I must say I'm very glad to see that we now have an administration that fully supports and listens to their scientific and medical advisors before making policy decisions, because as a doctor, I'm just one person. I can't do this work without the partnership and collaboration of organizations like AARP, like legendary journalists like Joan Lunden sharing, really evidence-based, lifesaving information. And as for which organizations to follow and trust, the CDC right now with the leadership of Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the FDA, but also look at the hospitals in your local cities. I used to work in Boston. So Mass General, Brigham, Boston Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh. I mean, there are many hospitals and academic medical centers throughout the country, as well as public health departments in cities and counties, which unfortunately have been underfunded for years, I'm hoping that will change. But trust those public health departments and academic medical centers as reliable sources of information, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right, thank you to you both. And let me shift the conversation to you, Joan, and here's where it gets a little bit hard. How do we talk to a family member or friend who's sharing information that seems questionable or blatantly spreads myths or bad information?

Joan Lunden: Well, first of all let me just say that because your cousin or your brother or your mother or whoever shared something, and you see it and like, what what's going on? Remember first the relationship is what's important, number one. And another thing that I think we could all not hear enough of, you don't have to respond to everything online, you know? So think before you do that, and then the other thing is people have a tendency to say things online, you know, typing it out with their fingers, that they would never say in person to an individual. So even though you may have discovered this discrepancy online, have the conversation in person. First of all, take a deep breath, get your emotions in check. Usually this information is not being shared because someone is trying to do harm to someone else, they're trying to share something that they think is good information. Have the conversation in person or on the phone, or at least in some kind of a private message at the very least. And then, remember how we did show and tell in school. We showed things as we told things. So don't just say you're wrong because I say so. That's never going to fly. Find an article, and if you can, find an article with somebody that that relative of yours also respects and trusts. That will make it even better and show them that. In other words, and if you know how to fact-check, which we're going to teach you at some point here if you sign up for the course, show them how to fact-check, show them how to do a reversed image check on a picture that they shared thinking it was real, and show them that it wasn't real. I mean that way, first of all, you'll look really cool and smart, but also, you'll be teaching them how to do something so that they will think first, and fact-check second before they share something again.

Bill Walsh: Right, thanks for those tips, Joan. Dr. Roy, turning back to you, we've heard a lot about the mental health impact of the pandemic. How might misinformation contribute to the stress and fear and anxiety that people are feeling?

Lipi Roy: Yeah, so I'm really glad you asked this question, Bill. It's so important. I'm actually working on an op-ed with a couple of my colleagues addressing COVID's massive mental health and psychological toll on India's doctors. I think most of you know now, India has not been able to contain the pandemic there. So let me tackle this question about mental health in three ways. One is that vaccine misinformation will mean a segment of the population will decline vaccination and will be at risk for getting COVID, which can result in long-term symptoms, including brain fog, and other long-term consequences that we still don't even know yet. So there's that aspect. Health care workers will continue to face the burden of caring for COVID patients, in addition to other patients with other illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke and diabetes and kidney failure, motor vehicle accidents, which will exacerbate their burnout, fatigue, anxiety, depression. And remember clinician burnout was an epidemic before COVID-19. And then last, but most certainly not least, global anxiety over an ongoing pandemic — will businesses, schools, live entertainment, conferences, travel, etc., will they ever really fully reopen? This is going to lead to unemployment, housing and food insecurity. All of that will result in ongoing anxiety. It's all connected, Bill.

So again, I always wear my doctor's hat and public health advocate hat; please, please get vaccinated. It is a life-saving measure. You'll not only be saving yourself, but you're going to be improving the health and livelihood of those around you, your loved ones and just the rest of the community. We live in a world with other people, we always have, we always will, Bill.

Bill Walsh: I like where you're going with the ripple effects of the pandemic. So I wanted to ask you a follow-up question along those lines. How are the challenges of the pandemic been revealed in our physical well-being?

Lipi Roy: Yes. I'm so glad you asked that. I love talking about these things. So, so first of all again, I'm going to address that in three different ways. COVID infection, remember this is not just a respiratory virus like say influenza. This particular virus causes multi-organ manifestations. People get myocarditis or heart illness, gastrointestinal, neurologic. So there are multiple medical or physical manifestations that way. And then just the stay-at-home measures of mitigation, working remotely, that has led to the lack of structure in our lives. And studies have shown that these stay-at-home measures have led to an increase in sedentary behaviors, decrease in exercise (remember most gyms are closed), poor eating habits, weight gain, especially amongst those with obesity. And then the third aspect is really, pandemic-induced anxiety and uncertainty, which has led to difficulty with sleep and concentration, an increase in use in alcohol, tobacco and other substances, as well as an increase in drug overdose. Again, drug overdose and opioid addiction, this was all an epidemic before the pandemic. And my day job is not only an internal medicine doctor, but I'm also an addiction medicine doctor. So these are topics and health issues that strongly resonate with me and for a lot of my patients, Bill.

Bill Walsh: You know, it seems in so many ways the pandemic is going to be lingering and with us for a long time, even once we move to herd immunity and vaccinations across the country. So thank you both for those comments. And as we said at the outset, in addition to misinformation, we've seen a proliferation of scams during the pandemic. Let's bring in Alex Mahadevan. Alex is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. Welcome, Alex.

Alex Mahadevan: Great to be here.

Bill Walsh: All right, thanks for being with us. I'd also like to bring in my AARP colleague, Amy Nofziger. Amy is the director of the AARP Fraud Helpline and is here to help us sort through some of the scams and how to avoid falling victim to one. Welcome, Amy.

Amy Nofziger: Thanks for having me, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right. Alex, let's start with you. A lot of these scams feel familiar. Why is that?

Alex Mahadevan: Well, they feel familiar because they are. Fraudsters will go use the same types of misinformation to get your personal information or money as they would for really any emergency scenario. So, for example, down here where I am in Florida, I've seen the same tricks used when there's a hurricane that we're seeing now during COVID-19. See, the thing is our emotions never change. Scammers can always use the same emotional hooks to get us sucked in — surprise, elation, anger, disgust. These are all emotions you may feel when you come across misinformation that could be part of a scam. The bottom line is that unless you protect yourself, these scams work.

Bill Walsh: Right, Alex. Well, walk us through a few of the scams that you're seeing of late, and you mentioned the emotional hook. What is that hook and what technique distinguishes that so people know that they're being scammed?

Alex Mahadevan: So, there are a lot out there. But first, the big one that I've seen is this fake vaccine survey. Now this is when you might get an email, text message or a phone call from someone who may sound official asking you to fill out a survey about getting vaccinated. And, if you do, you get a fancy new iPad Pro or some other prize, and all you have to do is pay shipping and handling. Well, the emotional hook is the surprise and elation you might have about getting a free iPad, right? And the tip-off that this is likely a scam is that they're asking for money upfront for something you're supposed to receive. They just want you to trust them, which unfortunately, these days is bad news.

Next, there are a few scams going around about COVID-19 debt relief, as well as government grants that are supposed to make up for lost income or other COVID-19 effects. And these both appear to come from government sources, like the Treasury Department, but are scams. The emotional hook here is the relief you may feel knowing that you can slash some debt, but as always, you'll be asked to pay. They'll ask you to pay a processing fee. Another tip-off is a lot of times they'll ask you to pay in gift cards. That is a major red flag, you know, you see a gift cards are a way for scammers to operate without getting caught. What's new about all these is you might see them on social media, on Facebook, and it might look like your friends are sharing links to these scams, but they're not actually your friends. They're fake profiles. It's a dangerous new world of misinformation out there online.

Bill Walsh: Well, thanks for all of that information, Alex. Amy, let me turn to you. How can someone stay up to date with the scams that are so quickly evolving, and how can they get some help?

Amy Nofziger: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Bill. I mean, the scammers follow the headlines just like you and I do, and they are coming up with new ways every day to steal our hard-earned money. So one of the best ways is like you said, to stay up to date, and the AARP Fraud Watch Network is a fantastic resource and you do not need to be a member. We, at the Fraud Watch Network, believe that knowledge gives you the power over these scams. So certainly, you can check out our website for all the latest information about the scams and frauds. And the great thing about the Fraud Watch Network is we have a toll-free helpline. This is what I do on a daily basis. I talk to victims and reporters every day about these scams. So when a scam comes into our helpline, and it's new and we need to warn people about it, we can quickly take that information and turn it around and give it to you. So we have some of the latest information. So please, call us on the helpline, it's free, it's 877-908-3360, or visit our website at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

Bill Walsh: OK, well it's great, Amy, to know that there's help available. You know, Alex just ticked off a few scams that he's seen. Are there any others that we should be on the lookout for?

Amy Nofziger: I mean, again, the scammers come up with new ones every single day, but bottom line, they want really two things from you. They want your personal information like your Social Security number, Medicare number, bank account number, or they want money. So, right, it doesn't matter kind of what the scam is, if there's one of those two things involved with it, huge red flag.

But I will tell you this, one of the biggest ones we've had over the last year are these government imposter scams, right? They'll call you and pretend to be either from the IRS or from the Social Security Administration saying that there's a problem with your account or that you didn't pay your taxes. They'll bring COVID into it somehow saying, well, we need you to pay immediately, because of COVID restrictions, we can't have you come down to the office. And again, just like Alex said, they're going to ask for payment in these nontraditional ways. Prepaid gift cards are a preferred method because they're virtually untraceable, and they're so accessible to everybody. I mean, you walk into a pharmacy or a grocery store, and you see those huge carousels of those gift cards. So, if anyone calls you asking for a gift card or saying you're in trouble with the government, hang up the phone. It is not them.

Bill Walsh: Great advice, Amy. Thanks so much. I mean, it sounds like the scammers never rest. Alex and Amy, I wonder what's your best advice for our viewers and our listeners on how to spot and avoid misinformation scams?

Alex Mahadevan: So I will say, first off, use your gut. If you get an emotional feeling when you see a post online or you get a call or text, that's a major red flag. Stop before engaging or sharing. I might have a slide coming up here, but always look for official government sources. For scams, you can, you know, trust and look into the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and for anything really COVID-19 health-related, you want to stick with the CDC and FDA. And also, you know, everything we talked about today, all this research, you can use a technique that we at MediaWise call lateral reading. And this is when you open a new tab, search for more information, open another new tab, search for even more information, and just go deeper and deeper to find out more about the potential scam you might be falling victim to.

Bill Walsh: Amy, any advice?

Amy Nofziger: Yeah, I'm so glad that Alex brought up the gut because sometimes I say that and people look at me like, you're crazy. But it's true. Listen to your gut. And I've talked to so many victims in my 19 years at AARP, and they say, I should've listened to my gut. So that is a huge red flag. If your gut is telling you something's off, listen to it. Also, if someone is making a guarantee, whether it's on an investment or we heard a lot of these COVID-19 cures that guarantees you not to get it, huge red flag. Nobody can guarantee anything like that. And then finally, big red flag when they ask for a nontraditional form of payment. We mentioned prepaid gift cards earlier, but we're also hearing about a lot of requests for cryptocurrency, right? And a lot of people don't know how easy it is to access it. There are machines at your local grocery stores that look like ATM machines, but it's actually places for you to buy cryptocurrency. And again, that's an untraceable form of money and scammers want that. And then finally, there are these things called peer-to-peer apps, common names are Cash App, Venmo and Zelle. If anybody that you do not know wants you to pay in that method, it's a scam. That's for friends and family only.

Bill Walsh: All right. Alex and Amy, thank you so much. Great tips, and it's great to know that there's some tools and resources out there to help. Now, it's time to address more of your questions with our guests, Joan Lunden, Dr. Roy and Alex Mahadevan. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you're watching on Facebook or YouTube, just drop your question in the comments section. Jean, who do we have in line next?

Jean Setzfand: Our first caller is Nancy from South Carolina.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Nancy. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Nancy: Yes, sorry about that. I was listening. My question is that I have heard in fact from people in New York that this vaccination has things in it that's supposed to kill people the end of this year or next year. And I don't know, other than they're saying the items that are put into the vaccination is what's going to cause people's death. So that's a big one that just came out that I heard in the last couple of weeks, so.

Bill Walsh: Well let me have some of our experts address that. I know Joan, you talked about this a little bit earlier. Do you want to address that at a little more length?

Joan Lunden: You can go to the FDA website, I mean, that's where the buck stops there as far as what's in any particular drug. And go to it and go to either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna, whatever vaccine, and it lists the ingredients right there. And I mean maybe Alex wants to address how you then do your fact-checking, but a lot of these things that are being put out there, I don't know the male part of the placenta, and I mean there's all these crazy things. Those are not in the ingredients. I mean, all you have to do is go and look, and they're not in the ingredients. So, this is the kind, they put doubt into your mind. That's the problem. They just like put that little bit of doubt into your mind so that you won't go and get vaccinated. And it's not in your best interest, and it's certainly not in the public's best interest that we don't reach herd immunity. We don't want this to become an endemic where we live with it forever. We all globally, we all need to get vaccinated.

Bill Walsh: Alex, I'd like to have you weigh in on this. You know, people are busy. They don't have a whole day, like it's not their job like it is for you to track these things down. Give me some sources people can use if they're hearing some of these allegations.

Alex Mahadevan: Well, I can tell you that fact-checkers have been working overtime for the last more than a year, personally and my friends and colleagues. So a lot, I would say almost any claim that you hear from friends or family like that one about ingredients that might kill you, have been fact-checked. So the quickest way to find it out is to do what I call lateral reading, which is look at that post that you're seeing and open up a new tab and then start using keywords to find out more about that source or post. And you're most likely going to come up with a fact check from whether it's PolitiFact or the Washington Post fact-checker. Reuters has a great fact-checking arm. Basically every major news outlet does major fact-checking now. So that's a quick way, you know it takes a couple seconds to google it, and maybe a couple minutes to read the article. So that's what I would suggest.

Bill Walsh: All right. Thanks, Alex. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Kurt from Pennsylvania.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Kurt, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Kurt: I have a question about taking pain medications and getting the vaccine.

Bill Walsh: What's your question, Kurt?

Kurt: I heard that I quit taking certain pain medications like oxycodone or Diazepam, like there might be some, some kind of something might happen.

Bill Walsh: Dr. Roy, do you want to weigh in on this? I mean, there has been a lot of talk about what you should take and what you shouldn't take after a vaccine if you're having some side effects. Dr. Roy, are you on mute?

Lipi Roy: So sorry about that. So Kurt, thank you for asking that question. You know, there's actually a very short list of who cannot get the vaccine. Really people who have a history of like anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, other medications, well really mostly other vaccines, including dose one of say Pfizer or Moderna. As for medications, I really can't think of any medications that can really clash or cross-react with any of these vaccines. That said, if you're somebody who's immunosuppressed and you're on certain chemotherapies or other medications that may suppress your immune system, by all means, talk to your doctor before you get the vaccine. But people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed should really also be getting the vaccine. But if you're concerned about any of your pre-existing medications or pre-existing conditions, always talk to your doctor, or your health care provider first. But really, no medication should be a contraindication for getting any of these vaccines.

Bill Walsh: OK, Dr. Roy, thank you very much. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Wanda from Ohio.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Wanda, welcome to the show. What's your question?

Wanda : My question is, I had brown hair when I was a kid, and then I got white hair, and then the doctor told me to get my vaccine, get my shots. I did. And now my hair in the back is growing brown. So I'm hoping it turns brown, all of it, and if the shots did that to me, I would like to know if it does, and my hair will all turn brown, I'll be tickled.

Bill Walsh: Well have you had any other side effects from the vaccine?

Wanda : No. No.

Bill Walsh: Just a change in hair color. Well you may be one of the blessed. Let me ask Dr. Roy to address that question.

Lipi Roy: Well, first of all, Wanda damn, I know tons of friends who would kill to have that kind of a side effect. There have been several side effects that have been associated with the vaccines. A change in hair color is not one that I'm familiar with, but frankly, some of the most common ones, and ones that I've experienced after getting the vaccine, really, it's fatigue, a headache, chills, body aches, nausea. Those are really the most common. It's rare for somebody to get all of those side effects, and there are some people that get no side effects, but a change in hair color is not one that I'm familiar with, Wanda.

Bill Walsh: All right, we'll add it to the list. Jean, who is next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Monita from Indiana.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Monita, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Monita: My question is, I have heard two different stories. I've heard that you can only catch the COVID by touching things that other people have touched, and others say that you can only catch it by the air. What's the truth?

Bill Walsh: Hmm, Dr. Roy, I think there has been actually some guidance around the COVID vaccine lingering on surfaces. Can you shed some light on that question?

Lipi Roy: Yeah, we now actually, so first of all, Monita, thank you for asking that question. We now have over a year's worth of data, which may not seem that much, but it's more than what we had like a year ago. So actually, studies have shown that transmission from surfaces is really not that common or high of mode of transmission. The thing to remember is that this coronavirus, the way that it transmits is through respiratory droplets and that are in your nose or nasal pharynx, and in your mouth. So that's why wearing that mask, covering your nose and mouth was so lifesaving, and it still is lifesaving. This virus transmits from person to person from respiratory droplets. But the vaccine can decrease that transmission from your mouth and nose to other people. So that's why the vaccine, getting that vaccine is so important. But also, hand hygiene and distancing along with the masking and the vaccines are other highly effective measures, as well.

Bill Walsh: OK, Dr. Roy, thank you so much for that. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Next caller is James from Michigan.

Bill Walsh: Hey James, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

James: Yeah, I think that most people, at least that I know will trust, a question of trust, will trust their family doctor. But the family doctor is overwhelmed with 300 patients. And so you can't get to your family doctor. Is there a way that family doctors can be reached and can help with the trust problem?

Bill Walsh: It's a great point, and I think throughout the pandemic, trust in physicians has probably only gone up. Dr. Roy, I wonder if you can answer the question directly, and maybe, Joan, weigh in on it on other sources that we can trust.

Lipi Roy: You know, the caller, James, thank you. I feel your frustration, my friend. This is something that many, many patients and many people in the public experience, which is an inability to reach their doctors on time. Clinics are well aware of this. As I said earlier, burnout amongst health care workers was an epidemic before the COVID-19 pandemic. So look, if you're unable to reach your family doctor, that's OK. There are many other sources of reliable information. We've already talked about several just on this program. The AARP is a great example, a great resource, the CDC, the Mayo Clinic, Mass General Hospital, NYU, but the hospital or academic center in your local area, the public health department in your area, but just googling “CDC” and whatever your question is, your question will be answered in a reliable and accurate manner, James.

Bill Walsh: Joan, I wonder if you could just weigh in on some go-to trustworthy sources at this critical time.

Joan Lunden: Well, interestingly, there's a couple of things that I thought were important to bring up. Number one, telemedicine is something, it's funny because a year ago I did a podcast for the Washington Post and Cleveland Clinic, and one of our shows was about the emergence of telemedicine, which they expected to maybe rollout over a five to 10 year period. And, of course, the pandemic hit, and it rolled out overnight. And so most of the doctors are making themselves available through telemedicine, but the big concern is that if you have a disconnect with your doctor, and so many people have had a disconnect from their annual checkups, women didn't get mammograms, women haven't been getting them for, you know, three, four months. The clinics were just downright closed, and then they've opened up, but there's been such a backlog from all the people who couldn't get in for those four months or so. And physicians that I talked to, whether they're, you know, cancer physicians or primary care physicians, they're really worried that a lot of people will have missed, during this 14-month period where they haven't been able to go to the doctor or then have been reluctant to go into a doctor’s office and have eventually kind of become just disconnected from their health routine, that we are going to miss a lot of diagnoses, and we're going to miss early diagnosis, which for many, many different chronic illnesses can make the difference in a person's prognosis.

So everybody that's listening, if you didn't get your colonoscopy, if you didn't get your mammogram, and if you haven't been in for your annual checkup and get a CBC while you're doing that, call the doctor and make an appointment. And if you can't get it for a few months, just go ahead and take it. Before you know it, that time will come up, and we all have to be our own advocate. We all have to be the CEO in charge of our own health care, because you know, it's not like the old days where there was a family doctor, and he knew everything about your health risk. We all see a multitude of doctors. They're not talking to each other. So you've got to be the gatekeeper. And if there's one thing we can try to impress upon everybody here, it's don't let this pandemic stop you from getting all the checkups that you need.

Bill Walsh: Right. Well, that sounds like a terrific way to close us out, Joan. I wonder if Alex and Dr. Roy have any other recommendations for our listeners and our viewers. Dr. Roy?

Lipi Roy: Well, first of all, I am so glad that AARP put on this event. This pandemic has really reinforced the idea that without your health, you have nothing, right? This pandemic has shown us that this one virus just dominated the world. Stopped the world in its tracks. And as a reminder, the United States tends to invest money in things like say the military, in financial sector, but it doesn't invest as much in the leading causes of death, which are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, and pneumonia, Alzheimer's are all in the top 10. We need to invest in public health and in health from your local, state and federal health agencies. And we just need to take care of one another, Bill.

Bill Walsh: OK. Thank you so much for that. Alex, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

Alex Mahadevan: Well, I do want to thank you for letting me be here and talk about a really important topic and, you know, misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic is near and dear to my heart as someone who's been following this for more than a year. I'll just say nobody likes to be misled online, whether it's to share a miracle cure or bad information about vaccines or scams. So try to be your own fact-checker. Trust your gut when you see something online. But overall, this is what I try to tell people all the time is, be kind to yourself and be kind to others. There's a lot of terrible stuff online. Misinformation is a part of it, but just try to be kind to each other.

Bill Walsh: All right, thank you, Alex. And Joan, I think you wanted to talk a little bit about a MediaWise opportunity for those who have tuned in tonight?

Joan Lunden: I sure do. MediaWise is offering a free, fact-checking online course. I really encourage you to do this, for all the AARP members. So I'm going to tell you how to go to it. You can register at https://poy.nu/AARP, and AARP has to be all big letters. So once again, https://poy.nu/AARP all in caps. I highly recommend that you do this. You're going to learn so much, and you're going to be empowered as to how you take in all your information online, wherever you get all your information.

Bill Walsh: All right, Joan, well, we got some great information from our experts here tonight. Thank you, all. This has been a really informative discussion, and I appreciate all of our experts for answering our questions. I want to thank you also, our AARP members, volunteers, listeners and viewers for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we're providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced here, including a recording of this evening's Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning May 21, tomorrow. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something that can keep you and your loved ones healthy, and help you identify the reality versus rumors when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine. Please tune in June 3rd at 1 p.m. ET for another live event answering your questions about the coronavirus. Thank you and have a good evening. This concludes our event.

 

TTH 052021 7 PM Reality vs. Rumor Transcript with Timestamps

Bill Walsh:  Hello, I am AARP Vice President, Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you'd like to hear this live event in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Espanola] AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. In all states people 18 and older are now eligible for a vaccine and access is improving across the country. More than 84 percent of people aged 65 and older have received at least one dose. While this is encouraging, some people are still struggling with the decision about whether to sign up for a vaccine or not. This comes at a time when new variants of COVID-19 continue to spread along with misinformation about the virus and the vaccines. In fact, we have seen a proliferation of rumors, outright falsehoods and scams that have left many Americans wondering whom they should trust in the face of this ongoing public health crisis. This evening, we'll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

[00:01:34] If you've participated in one of our live events, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you'd like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you'd like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. [Espanola] If you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your questions in the comments section.

[00:02:43] We have some outstanding guests joining us today whom we'll introduce in a moment. This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

[00:03:16] Now I'd like to welcome our guests. Joan Lunden is a journalist, bestselling author and TV host. In 2020, she signed on as a MediaWise ambassador, a group of prominent journalists and media influencers who help promote the MediaWise mission, which is to empower people of all ages to be more critical consumers of content online. Joan also serves as one of the lead instructors for the MediaWise for Seniors fact-checking 101, online digital media literacy course. Welcome, Joan.

[00:03:49]Joan Lunden:  Oh, it's a pleasure to be here with all of you tonight. Thanks for asking me.

[00:03:53]Bill Walsh:  All right, we're delighted to have you. Also joining us is Dr. Lipi Roy. She is the medical director of COVID Isolation and Quarantine Sites at Housing Works, a nonprofit organization in New York City. She's a Forbes contributor and a former MSNBC and NBC News medical contributor. Welcome to the program, doctor.

[00:04:19] All right. Let's get started with the discussion. Joan, we're going to go ahead and start with you. We're bombarded every day with COVID-19 news and information, and it's difficult at times to differentiate reality versus rumors. So let me ask you, what is the difference between misinformation and disinformation, and why is this pandemic such a fertile ground for both of those?

[00:04:53]Joan Lunden:  You know, I think that it would all boil down to intent. Misinformation is just false information or maybe out-of-context information that almost gets shared by mistake. You know, think of your aunt or your uncle or your cousin or whoever; they see something that sounds so great, a miracle cure for COVID. And so with all good intentions, they want to share it with everybody they know on Facebook. But while they were well meaning, and maybe not even aware of the fact that they were sharing false information, they do it.

[00:05:29] But disinformation is a whole different thing. Disinformation is false information that is shared on purpose. And it's shared to sometimes have a scam, you know, when we saw, and a lot of people might have experienced, some of these things that we're going to talk about tonight at the beginning of the pandemic, scammers could come along with all these cures, of course, for your money. And then also, when the vaccine started to rollout, there was a huge scam going on where they would trick people into giving personal information and sometimes their hard-earned money to get a better place in line to get that vaccine because everyone was just so desirous of getting the vaccine.

[00:06:16] So all of this has made for really fertile ground, but then we also have the advent of technology and social media and algorithms and we've all been in our homes, also. So you have that desire to connect with other people. You put this all together and it really is like the perfect storm because people are dealing with something that's so unprecedented and so unknown that they're looking for something to make sense of it all. And sometimes they'll latch onto things that aren't real, and they unknowingly, unwittingly share it with others.

[00:06:56]Bill Walsh:  Right. Well, thanks for that, Joan. A quick follow-up. I wonder if you can share some examples of pandemic-specific misinformation that has been harmful.

[00:07:06]Joan Lunden:  Oh, my gosh, there are so many. You know, when the COVID stimulus checks first came out, there were a lot of different ways that people were being scammed. I mean, just as an example, there was one that a used car dealership was sending out fake checks to people that could only, of course, be used at this one used car dealership. And it really got the people to engage, and then they convinced them to buy cars, thinking they were getting this amount of money off on the car. I mean, that's just kind of to give you an idea how people have dreamed up all these different ways. But the most important or the most harmful viral misinformation has really come from all these posts that have falsely claimed that people are dying. Thousands of people are dying from the vaccine and that is simply not true.

[00:08:04] You know, sometimes these things come from a little seed of a report from somewhere. But they've been proven now definitively not to be true, but when people see that there are some people got blood clots with the J&J, for instance, six people out of 6 million people had these blood clots, which of course made everyone come to a pause with that vaccine. Now they've gone ahead with it. And by the way, all those six people did not die. But all it takes is something like that for that person wondering if they're going to go and get vaccinated to say, well, you know, then they're all bad.

[00:08:46] And lately, I've seen some about that the mRNA, that's how this virus is made, unlike the flu virus and some of the ones from the past, it's a really unique new way to do a vaccine. And there have been a lot of articles that that can cause infertility. Well I'm here to tell you that that's not true. Evidence has firmly shown that that is not the case, but that came about because I think it was a German epidemiologist last December, if I get this right, he came up with the theory that the COVID-19 vaccines might make a woman's body reject a little protein that's connected to the placenta. And, therefore, his thought was that because that little genetic code of the placenta, that it shares as vague similarity to the spike in the protein on the COVID-19. And he said, well, if vaccines cause our bodies to create antibodies to protect us from COVID-19, his thought was that they could also make antibodies to reject the placenta.

[00:10:01] Now you might be saying right now, well, that's sounds ridiculous, but it was his theory, and he put it out there and it's now been disproven. But in the meantime, people hear this and they latch onto it, and it gets shared over and over and over again. How about the one where there are microchips? No, wait, Bill Gates put the microchips into the vaccines which, you know, do I even need to try to defend that one?

[00:10:30] And one of the last ones that I've seen lately is that they have aluminum in them and that this is going to harm us. Well, aluminum actually has been used in some other vaccines, and here's where, you know, you see these stories. Not this one. It is not. You can go to the FDA website, you can look at all the ingredients in the Pfizer and in the Moderna; it's simply not in there or any of the other crazy things that they say are in there. You can go and you can look, the facts are right there. And by the way, the aluminum is not used in the amount that would harm us, even in those other vaccines, to all you anti-vacciners, because aluminum's in the earth. So everything we eat comes from the earth, and we eat way more aluminum on a daily basis than is in any of those vaccines. Bottom line though, there's no aluminum in the COVID-19 vaccine, in any of them.

[00:11:27]Bill Walsh:  All right, well, thank for that.

[00:11:29]Joan Lunden:  But the facts are there.

[00:11:30]Bill Walsh:  Yeah, well, thank you for that, Joan. It's remarkable how these rumors get started and how they spread. And you touched on one I wanted to ask Dr. Roy about. Dr. Roy, a small number of voices, as Joan was referring to, continue to suggest that a high number of deaths have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines, more than 3,000 according to some. Is this true? Can you talk about this rumor?

[00:11:56]Lipi Roy:  So, first of all, Bill, I just want to say this time I remembered to unmute my microphone. And secondly, how many times have we said, it's like the saying from 2020, right? Can you unmute? And secondly, I would love to recruit Joan Lunden to the Housing Works medical team because yesterday, I mean, I just gave a presentation to one of our clinics about vaccine misinformation and myths. And one of them is exactly what Joan just mentioned about women's fertility being linked to the vaccines, and what Joan was referring to, actually it's called cincitin 1, which is similar to the spike protein on the coronavirus, but they're two very different proteins. So yes, it's involved with placental development anyway. Thank you, Joan, for saying all of that.

[00:12:45] And to answer your question, Bill, I mean, that is yet another example of misinformation. These vaccines are incredibly safe. And just to take a step back for all your audience members — vaccines are medications that undergo the highest safety standards, more than any other medication that's in your medicine cabinet right now. And the reason for that is because vaccines are designed for healthy people, healthy children and adults. As a result, they have to undergo the highest safety standards. The vaccines have not been associated with deaths, and if anything, what they've been found to have is to be not only safe, but extremely effective. The mRNA vaccines, the Pfizer BioNTech one and the Moderna one are like 95 percent effective. And the J&J one is about anywhere from like 72 to 86 percent, 72 for the overall population and 86 for severe disease prevention or reduction in risk.

[00:13:53] So these vaccines are incredibly effective and safe. And the three things that they all equally do is reduce your risk for severe disease, hospitalization and death. That's ultimately what you want. And just as a reminder, Bill, let's remember COVID-19 pandemic is very much present here in the United States. We have mutants coming in from other countries that are already here or mutant strains, I should say. And remember, this is a disease that has claimed over 500, almost 590,000 lives in this country alone. It's a disease for which we have moderately effective treatment and certainly no cure, but we have effective prevention techniques — masks, distancing and now multiple vaccine candidates, Bill.

[00:14:41]Bill Walsh:  So Dr. Roy, you just did a good job of giving us some really great facts and figures about the vaccines. What is your best argument in favor of getting a vaccine to somebody who's still resistant?

[00:14:56]Lipi Roy:  I'm so glad you asked that, Bill. This is a conversation that I have literally every day at Housing Works, at the Harm Reduction Clinic where I work, at the Bronx, and at vaccination sites where I work throughout New York City, not only to my patients, the general public, but also to our staff. We have several health care workers who are nurses, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, who still decline to get the vaccine. So what I really emphasize are that in human history, the most successful public health intervention has been vaccines. They have saved millions of lives. We, right now in the 2000s, are not really familiar with the fact that there was a time in history when infectious diseases killed the majority of people, and in certain parts of the world still do. So it's a miracle of science that we live in an age and in a location where we don't die from tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, influenza. Granted these are all diseases that still kill people, but drastically low numbers because of vaccination and hygiene, clean water, things like that as well. So the key messages, Bill, the vaccines are safe, they're effective and we really have no cure for this virus, this novel coronavirus, which we are still learning about every day, Bill.

[00:16:25]Bill Walsh:  OK, Dr. Roy, thank you so much for that. Joan, let's turn back to you. How did decisions to delay or pause some of the vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson in the United States or the AstraZeneca in Europe, make it easier to spread misinformation? Are there examples of misinformation we might recognize?

[00:16:45]Joan Lunden:  I think we're living in a world of see, I told you so. And everybody, because of algorithms, gets their own set of facts. You know we watch different newscasts depending on our health or political beliefs, and when we google things on our computer, our computers learn what we think. And by just what we've gone to over and over again, we each live in our own little silo of facts. And when somebody is concerned about getting the vaccine, or is believing some of these myths that are going around, when all of a sudden a vaccine gets put on pause, that's the I-told-you-so moment, because they're looking for something to validate their belief.

[00:17:37] So, you know, this is an unprecedented health crisis. And it's the first time we've had a health crisis at the same time that we've had technology and social media, and you put those things together with the science constantly changing and changing, it's difficult for the general public even just to keep up with the latest news. And when they see that a pause like that happened, and then they see it unpaused, it just leaves people in kind of a free fall. And you know, obviously, well, I say obviously, but the CDC and the FDA, they would not have carelessly put that back in use. And yet there are still people that are completely convinced that it's not safe to take it.

[00:18:29]Bill Walsh:  Who was it, Mark Twain, who said that a lie can make its way around the earth before the truth gets a chance to stand up out of its chair. I think that's only accelerated in the internet age, hasn't it?

[00:18:41] Well, it's now time to address some of your questions about vaccines, reality versus rumors, with Joan Lunden and Dr. Lipi Roy. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I'd like now to bring in my AARP colleague, Jean Setzfand, to help facilitate your calls and questions from Facebook and YouTube. Welcome, Jean.

[00:19:10]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks so much, Bill. Delighted to be here for this important conversation.

[00:19:13]Bill Walsh:  All right. Who do we have first on the line?

[00:19:16]Jean Setzfand:  The first caller is Matt from New York.

[00:19:20]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Matt, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:19:24]Matt:  OK, my question is this. We've heard of people who were vaccinated, such as eight members of the New York Yankee baseball team, and others who subsequently tested positive. And, quite frankly, I don't trust the New York City or New York State government. Should I be tested despite the fact that I was vaccinated?

[00:19:53]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Roy, do you want to field that question?

[00:19:56]Lipi Roy:  Yeah, thank you so much for asking that. And yes, that has raised concerns among a lot of people. And as the caller pointed out, not only members of the New York Yankees, Bill Maher, many other celebrities, but many of my own patients have said, ‘hey, Doc, I don't want to get the vaccine because I heard that you can get vaccinated and still get COVID.’ So it's not that the scientists have lied, the CDC has not lied, they've been very clear in terms of what exactly the vaccine does. The vaccine significantly reduces asymptomatic infection and transmission. So, in other words, your risk of getting COVID is significantly reduced once you're vaccinated. In addition, your risk of transmitting the virus to somebody else is also significantly reduced. But remember, no prevention measure in all of science and medicine is 100 percent. So you could get the vaccine and still test positive, which is why they're still recommending wearing a mask. And they're recommending that everyone else around you gets vaccinated because then their risk of getting the virus is significantly reduced.

[00:21:03] The key thing to remember is that once you get vaccinated, if you still test positive, your risk of actually getting severe disease, hospitalization or dying from the virus is significantly reduced, like about 85 to 95 percent, Bill.

[00:21:19]Bill Walsh:  OK, thank you for that, Dr. Roy. Let's go back to the line. Jean, who do we have next?

[00:21:25]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Martha from Texas.

[00:21:27]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Martha, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:21:31]Martha:  Yes, hi. I heard the lady, I think it was Joan, said that six people caught the, I mean, I'm sorry, had blood clots on the J&J vaccine, and all of them lived. I heard on the news that one died and one was on life support.

[00:21:52]Bill Walsh:  I think, I believe that's correct. Joan, did you want to clarify that?

[00:21:55]Joan Lunden:  Yeah. I just said that they all did not die. One did die and one is, I don't know if she's on life support, but I know she's in the hospital. But you know, you have to look at population health, public health. You have to look at this globally, because we can do things here in this country, but if we don't help some of the other countries, this pandemic is not going to be over until we can control it all around the globe. And if you can't get in front of it, then it becomes something called an endemic. And, you know, this is new and unprecedented that we've ever had virus that is virulent. So when you're looking at a vaccine, and you give it to 6 million people who are then vaccinated, and they won't get sick and die, and you get six people who got blood clots, and four of them weren't significant, once again, I think it was the Dr. just said that nothing is 100 percent, but the goal is to try to vaccinate globally. And by the way, if you drive a car, you're much more likely to get into an accident, a fatal accident, than taking one of these vaccines. If you fly, I mean, you can name 10 other things that you might do without ever thinking about them, that puts you much more at risk of dying than taking the vaccine. And Dr., you can please correct me if I'm incorrect, but I'm pretty sure I've got my facts straight there.

[00:23:31]Lipi Roy:  Nope, Joan, you're absolutely right. And let me just also clarify to Martha that as of like I think maybe yesterday, over 8 million doses of J&J have now been given out worldwide, and there's 15 to 20 cases of this rare blood clot. But just look at those numbers. 15 out of 8 million. I mean there are medications that everyday people take that increase their risk of getting a clot, like say oral contraceptives where it's like one in 5,000. So I just want people to remember that these side effects are extremely rare, and look, your everyday Tylenol which you take for pain and fever, it's the leading cause of acute liver failure. Ibuprofen can cause kidney failure and GI bleeding. So I just want people to remember, just put things into perspective.

[00:24:25]Bill Walsh:  Right, well, thank you both for that. Jean, let's take another call.

[00:24:31]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Charlie from Delaware.

[00:24:36]Bill Walsh:  Charlie, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:24:41]Charlie:  I had heard that in six months or in the fall we've got to get a booster shot to keep these shots effective. Is that true?

[00:24:55]Bill Walsh:  That's a question we hear a lot. Dr. Roy, do you have an answer?

[00:24:59]Lipi Roy:  Well, Charlie, the short answer is we don't know. But it's looking that way, that we're probably going to need a booster shot. If you listened to Dr. Fauci on television, he said multiple times that based on the data, again, we don't have very long-term data on any of these new vaccine candidates, but we may very well need a booster shot at either maybe six months or one year. But keep paying attention to the news and the data from the CDC and FDA. We'll find out soon enough.

[00:25:27]Bill Walsh:  You know, it strikes me listening to the questions we've had so far, that there still is a lot of misinformation, a little uncertainty out there about who to believe, what sources to believe. I wonder if Joan and Dr. Roy, you could very quickly give us some idea about how ordinary consumers are supposed to be able to verify some of the things that they're hearing.

[00:25:49]Joan Lunden:  Well I think that's the reason why all the misinformation spreads so quickly because people do have that desire. They want to know what's real. And unfortunately, we have had over the last year, a breakdown in trust and that's probably been, well, the virus is the virus, but I mean, that's also been one of the things that has attacked us. You know, the World Health Organization says we're not only dealing with an unprecedented pandemic, but we're also dealing with an unprecedented info-demic. And that really is an excessive amount of information that's online and offline, but that's filled with all of the misinformation, and it breaks down people's trust in science and the media. And that's an incredibly dangerous thing at any time, but certainly during a pandemic, against a virulent virus. So I just think that it's going to take a while, I think, and you know, for me having been in journalism for 40 years, I'm so saddened by that. And it's going to really, I think, take a lot to try to build back that trust. But you know, Dr. Roy, I'm sure you'll add in here, trust in the science is so important in trying to accomplish public health.

[00:27:18]Lipi Roy:  Yeah, Bill, can I just add. So I love the sentiment that Joan just made. You know, since the start of this pandemic, which has now been over well over a year, what has really troubled, frustrated, and frankly angered me and my fellow health care professionals, medical and public health professionals, is the fact that this disease, this infectious outbreak that does not discriminate, was politicized from day one. Not just here in the United States, but other countries as well. And as a result, it has adversely affected lifesaving therapies and interventions to frankly millions of people in the United States and worldwide. That's really unfortunate. Leadership matters. Leadership from our elected officials all the way down to our local community members. So I must say I'm very glad to see that we now have an administration that fully supports and listens to their scientific and medical advisors before making policy decisions, because as a doctor, I'm just one person. I can't do this work without the partnership and collaboration of organizations like AARP, like legendary journalists like Joan Lunden sharing, really evidence-based, lifesaving information. And as for which organizations to follow and trust, the CDC right now with the leadership of Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the FDA, but also look at the hospitals in your local cities. I used to work in Boston. So Mass General, Brigham, Boston Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh. I mean, there are many hospitals and academic medical centers throughout the country, as well as public health departments in cities and counties, which unfortunately have been underfunded for years, I'm hoping that will change. But trust those public health departments and academic medical centers as reliable sources of information, Bill.

[00:29:15]Bill Walsh:  All right, thank you to you both. And let me shift the conversation to you, Joan, and here's where it gets a little bit hard. How do we talk to a family member or friend who's sharing information that seems questionable or blatantly spreads myths or bad information?

[00:29:32]Joan Lunden:  Well, first of all let me just say that because your cousin or your brother or your mother or whoever shared something, and you see it and like, what what's going on? Remember first the relationship is what's important, number one. And another thing that I think we could all not hear enough of, you don't have to respond to everything online, you know? So think before you do that, and then the other thing is people have a tendency to say things online, you know, typing it out with their fingers, that they would never say in person to an individual. So even though you may have discovered this discrepancy online, have the conversation in person. First of all, take a deep breath, get your emotions in check. Usually this information is not being shared because someone is trying to do harm to someone else, they're trying to share something that they think is good information. Have the conversation in person or on the phone, or at least in some kind of a private message at the very least. And then, remember how we did show and tell in school. We showed things as we told things. So don't just say you're wrong because I say so. That's never going to fly. Find an article, and if you can, find an article with somebody that that relative of yours also respects and trusts. That will make it even better and show them that. In other words, and if you know how to fact-check, which we're going to teach you at some point here if you sign up for the course, show them how to fact-check, show them how to do a reversed image check on a picture that they shared thinking it was real, and show them that it wasn't real. I mean that way, first of all, you'll look really cool and smart, but also, you'll be teaching them how to do something so that they will think first, and fact-check second before they share something again.

[00:31:47]Bill Walsh:  Right, thanks for those tips, Joan. Dr. Roy, turning back to you, we've heard a lot about the mental health impact of the pandemic. How might misinformation contribute to the stress and fear and anxiety that people are feeling?

[00:32:03]Lipi Roy:  Yeah, so I'm really glad you asked this question, Bill. It's so important. I'm actually working on an op-ed with a couple of my colleagues addressing COVID's massive mental health and psychological toll on India's doctors. I think most of you know now, India has not been able to contain the pandemic there. So let me tackle this question about mental health in three ways. One is that vaccine misinformation will mean a segment of the population will decline vaccination and will be at risk for getting COVID, which can result in long-term symptoms, including brain fog, and other long-term consequences that we still don't even know yet. So there's that aspect. Health care workers will continue to face the burden of caring for COVID patients, in addition to other patients with other illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke and diabetes and kidney failure, motor vehicle accidents, which will exacerbate their burnout, fatigue, anxiety, depression. And remember clinician burnout was an epidemic before COVID-19. And then last, but most certainly not least, global anxiety over an ongoing pandemic — will businesses, schools, live entertainment, conferences, travel, etc., will they ever really fully reopen? This is going to lead to unemployment, housing and food insecurity. All of that will result in ongoing anxiety. It's all connected, Bill.

[00:33:38] So again, I always wear my doctor's hat and public health advocate hat; please, please get vaccinated. It is a life-saving measure. You'll not only be saving yourself, but you're going to be improving the health and livelihood of those around you, your loved ones and just the rest of the community. We live in a world with other people, we always have, we always will, Bill.

[00:34:01]Bill Walsh:  I like where you're going with the ripple effects of the pandemic. So I wanted to ask you a follow-up question along those lines. How are the challenges of the pandemic been revealed in our physical well-being?

[00:34:14]Lipi Roy:  Yes. I'm so glad you asked that. I love talking about these things. So, so first of all again, I'm going to address that in three different ways. COVID infection, remember this is not just a respiratory virus like say influenza. This particular virus causes multi-organ manifestations. People get myocarditis or heart illness, gastrointestinal, neurologic. So there are multiple medical or physical manifestations that way. And then just the stay-at-home measures of mitigation, working remotely, that has led to the lack of structure in our lives. And studies have shown that these stay-at-home measures have led to an increase in sedentary behaviors, decrease in exercise [remember most gyms are closed], poor eating habits, weight gain, especially amongst those with obesity. And then the third aspect is really, pandemic-induced anxiety and uncertainty, which has led to difficulty with sleep and concentration, an increase in use in alcohol, tobacco and other substances, as well as an increase in drug overdose. Again, drug overdose and opioid addiction, this was all an epidemic before the pandemic. And my day job is not only an internal medicine doctor, but I'm also an addiction medicine doctor. So these are topics and health issues that strongly resonate with me and for a lot of my patients, Bill.

[00:35:41]Bill Walsh:  You know, it seems in so many ways the pandemic is going to be lingering and with us for a long time, even once we move to herd immunity and vaccinations across the country. So thank you both for those comments. And as we said at the outset, in addition to misinformation, we've seen a proliferation of scams during the pandemic. Let's bring in Alex Mahadevan. Alex is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. Welcome, Alex.

[00:36:13]Alex Mahadevan:  Great to be here.

[00:36:14]Bill Walsh:  All right, thanks for being with us. I'd also like to bring in my AARP colleague, Amy Nofziger. Amy is the director of the AARP Fraud Helpline and is here to help us sort through some of the scams and how to avoid falling victim to one. Welcome, Amy.

[00:36:31]Amy Nofziger:  Thanks for having me, Bill.

[00:36:32]Bill Walsh:  All right. Alex, let's start with you. A lot of these scams feel familiar. Why is that?

[00:36:39]Alex Mahadevan:  Well, they feel familiar because they are. Fraudsters will go use the same types of misinformation to get your personal information or money as they would for really any emergency scenario. So, for example, down here where I am in Florida, I've seen the same tricks used when there's a hurricane that we're seeing now during COVID-19. See, the thing is our emotions never change. Scammers can always use the same emotional hooks to get us sucked in — surprise, elation, anger, disgust. These are all emotions you may feel when you come across misinformation that could be part of a scam. The bottom line is that unless you protect yourself, these scams work.

[00:37:23]Bill Walsh:  Right, Alex. Well, walk us through a few of the scams that you're seeing of late, and you mentioned the emotional hook. What is that hook and what technique distinguishes that so people know that they're being scammed?

[00:37:38]Alex Mahadevan:  So, there are a lot out there. But first, the big one that I've seen is this fake vaccine survey. Now this is when you might get an email, text message or a phone call from someone who may sound official asking you to fill out a survey about getting vaccinated. And, if you do, you get a fancy new iPad Pro or some other prize, and all you have to do is pay shipping and handling. Well, the emotional hook is the surprise and elation you might have about getting a free iPad, right? And the tip-off that this is likely a scam is that they're asking for money upfront for something you're supposed to receive. They just want you to trust them, which unfortunately, these days is bad news.

[00:38:21] Next, there are a few scams going around about COVID-19 debt relief, as well as government grants that are supposed to make up for lost income or other COVID-19 effects. And these both appear to come from government sources, like the Treasury Department, but are scams. The emotional hook here is the relief you may feel knowing that you can slash some debt, but as always, you'll be asked to pay. They'll ask you to pay a processing fee. Another tip-off is a lot of times they'll ask you to pay in gift cards. That is a major red flag, you know, you see a gift cards are a way for scammers to operate without getting caught. What's new about all these is you might see them on social media, on Facebook, and it might look like your friends are sharing links to these scams, but they're not actually your friends. They're fake profiles. It's a dangerous new world of misinformation out there online.

[00:39:20]Bill Walsh:  Well, thanks for all of that information, Alex. Amy, let me turn to you. How can someone stay up to date with the scams that are so quickly evolving, and how can they get some help?

[00:39:32]Amy Nofziger:  Yeah, you're absolutely right, Bill. I mean, the scammers follow the headlines just like you and I do, and they are coming up with new ways every day to steal our hard-earned money. So one of the best ways is like you said, to stay up to date, and the AARP Fraud Watch Network is a fantastic resource and you do not need to be a member. We, at the Fraud Watch Network, believe that knowledge gives you the power over these scams. So certainly, you can check out our website for all the latest information about the scams and frauds. And the great thing about the Fraud Watch Network is we have a toll-free helpline. This is what I do on a daily basis. I talk to victims and reporters every day about these scams. So when a scam comes into our helpline, and it's new and we need to warn people about it, we can quickly take that information and turn it around and give it to you. So we have some of the latest information. So please, call us on the helpline, it's free, it's 877-908-3360, or visit our website at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

[00:40:42]Bill Walsh:  OK, well it's great, Amy, to know that there's help available. You know, Alex just ticked off a few scams that he's seen. Are there any others that we should be on the lookout for?

[00:40:52]Amy Nofziger:  I mean, again, the scammers come up with new ones every single day, but bottom line, they want really two things from you. They want your personal information like your Social Security number, Medicare number, bank account number, or they want money. So, right, it doesn't matter kind of what the scam is, if there's one of those two things involved with it, huge red flag.

[00:41:15] But I will tell you this, one of the biggest ones we've had over the last year are these government imposter scams, right? They'll call you and pretend to be either from the IRS or from the Social Security Administration saying that there's a problem with your account or that you didn't pay your taxes. They'll bring COVID into it somehow saying, well, we need you to pay immediately, because of COVID restrictions, we can't have you come down to the office. And again, just like Alex said, they're going to ask for payment in these nontraditional ways. Prepaid gift cards are a preferred method because they're virtually untraceable, and they're so accessible to everybody. I mean, you walk into a pharmacy or a grocery store, and you see those huge carousels of those gift cards. So, if anyone calls you asking for a gift card or saying you're in trouble with the government, hang up the phone. It is not them.

[00:42:09]Bill Walsh:  Great advice, Amy. Thanks so much. I mean, it sounds like the scammers never rest. Alex and Amy, I wonder what's your best advice for our viewers and our listeners on how to spot and avoid misinformation scams?

[00:42:25]Alex Mahadevan:  So I will say, first off, use your gut. If you get an emotional feeling when you see a post online or you get a call or text, that's a major red flag. Stop before engaging or sharing. I might have a slide coming up here, but always look for official government sources. For scams, you can, you know, trust and look into the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and for anything really COVID-19 health-related, you want to stick with the CDC and FDA. And also, you know, everything we talked about today, all this research, you can use a technique that we at MediaWise call lateral reading. And this is when you open a new tab, search for more information, open another new tab, search for even more information, and just go deeper and deeper to find out more about the potential scam you might be falling victim to.

[00:43:20]Bill Walsh:  Amy, any advice?

[00:43:21]Amy Nofziger:  Yeah, I'm so glad that Alex brought up the gut because sometimes I say that and people look at me like, you're crazy. But it's true. Listen to your gut. And I've talked to so many victims in my 19 years at AARP, and they say, I should've listened to my gut. So that is a huge red flag. If your gut is telling you something's off, listen to it. Also, if someone is making a guarantee, whether it's on an investment or we heard a lot of these COVID-19 cures that guarantees you not to get it, huge red flag. Nobody can guarantee anything like that. And then finally, big red flag when they ask for a nontraditional form of payment. We mentioned prepaid gift cards earlier, but we're also hearing about a lot of requests for cryptocurrency, right? And a lot of people don't know how easy it is to access it. There are machines at your local grocery stores that look like ATM machines, but it's actually places for you to buy cryptocurrency. And again, that's an untraceable form of money and scammers want that. And then finally, there are these things called peer-to-peer apps, common names are Cash App, Venmo and Zelle. If anybody that you do not know wants you to pay in that method, it's a scam. That's for friends and family only.

[00:44:43]Bill Walsh:  All right. Alex and Amy, thank you so much. Great tips, and it's great to know that there's some tools and resources out there to help. Now, it's time to address more of your questions with our guests, Joan Lunden, Dr. Roy and Alex Mahadevan. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you're watching on Facebook or YouTube, just drop your question in the comments section. Jean, who do we have in line next?

[00:45:14]Jean Setzfand:  Our first caller is Nancy from South Carolina.

[00:45:17]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Nancy. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:45:24]Nancy:  Yes, sorry about that. I was listening. My question is that I have heard in fact from people in New York that this vaccination has things in it that's supposed to kill people the end of this year or next year. And I don't know, other than they're saying the items that are put into the vaccination is what's going to cause people's death. So that's a big one that just came out that I heard in the last couple of weeks, so.

[00:45:56]Bill Walsh:  Well let me have some of our experts address that. I know Joan, you talked about this a little bit earlier. Do you want to address that at a little more length?

[00:46:06]Joan Lunden:  You can go to the FDA website, I mean, that's where the buck stops there as far as what's in any particular drug. And go to it and go to either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna, whatever vaccine, and it lists the ingredients right there. And I mean maybe Alex wants to address how you then do your fact-checking, but a lot of these things that are being put out there, I don't know the male part of the placenta, and I mean there's all these crazy things. Those are not in the ingredients. I mean, all you have to do is go and look, and they're not in the ingredients. So, this is the kind, they put doubt into your mind. That's the problem. They just like put that little bit of doubt into your mind so that you won't go and get vaccinated. And it's not in your best interest, and it's certainly not in the public's best interest that we don't reach herd immunity. We don't want this to become an endemic where we live with it forever. We all globally, we all need to get vaccinated.

[00:47:16]Bill Walsh:  Alex, I'd like to have you weigh in on this. You know, people are busy. They don't have a whole day, like it's not their job like it is for you to track these things down. Give me some sources people can use if they're hearing some of these allegations.

[00:47:31]Alex Mahadevan:  Well, I can tell you that fact-checkers have been working overtime for the last more than a year, personally and my friends and colleagues. So a lot, I would say almost any claim that you hear from friends or family like that one about ingredients that might kill you, have been fact-checked. So the quickest way to find it out is to do what I call lateral reading, which is look at that post that you're seeing and open up a new tab and then start using keywords to find out more about that source or post. And you're most likely going to come up with a fact check from whether it's PolitiFact or the Washington Post fact-checker. Reuters has a great fact-checking arm. Basically every major news outlet does major fact-checking now. So that's a quick way, you know it takes a couple seconds to google it, and maybe a couple minutes to read the article. So that's what I would suggest.

[00:48:30]Bill Walsh:  All right. Thanks, Alex. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:48:34]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Kurt from Pennsylvania.

[00:48:37]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Kurt, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:48:46]Kurt:  I have a question about taking pain medications and getting the vaccine.

[00:48:53]Bill Walsh:  What's your question, Kurt?

[00:48:57]Kurt:  I heard that I quit taking certain pain medications like oxycodone or Diazepam, like there might be some, some kind of something might happen.

[00:49:13]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Roy, do you want to weigh in on this? I mean, there has been a lot of talk about what you should take and what you shouldn't take after a vaccine if you're having some side effects. Dr. Roy, are you on mute?

[00:49:29]Lipi Roy:  So sorry about that. So Kurt, thank you for asking that question. You know, there's actually a very short list of who cannot get the vaccine. Really people who have a history of like anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, other medications, well really mostly other vaccines, including dose one of say Pfizer or Moderna. As for medications, I really can't think of any medications that can really clash or cross-react with any of these vaccines. That said, if you're somebody who's immunosuppressed and you're on certain chemotherapies or other medications that may suppress your immune system, by all means, talk to your doctor before you get the vaccine. But people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed should really also be getting the vaccine. But if you're concerned about any of your pre-existing medications or pre-existing conditions, always talk to your doctor, or your health care provider first. But really, no medication should be a contraindication for getting any of these vaccines.

[00:50:35]Bill Walsh:  OK, Dr. Roy, thank you very much. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

[00:50:40]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Wanda from Ohio.

[00:50:42]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Wanda, welcome to the show. What's your question?

[00:50:46]Wanda:  My question is, I had brown hair when I was a kid, and then I got white hair, and then the doctor told me to get my vaccine, get my shots. I did. And now my hair in the back is growing brown. So I'm hoping it turns brown, all of it, and if the shots did that to me, I would like to know if it does, and my hair will all turn brown, I'll be tickled.

[00:51:20]Bill Walsh:  Well have you had any other side effects from the vaccine?

[00:51:23]Wanda:  No. No.

[00:51:25]Bill Walsh:  Just a change in hair color. Well you may be one of the blessed. Let me ask Dr. Roy to address that question.

[00:51:33]Lipi Roy:  Well, first of all, Wanda damn, I know tons of friends who would kill to have that kind of a side effect. There have been several side effects that have been associated with the vaccines. A change in hair color is not one that I'm familiar with, but frankly, some of the most common ones, and ones that I've experienced after getting the vaccine, really, it's fatigue, a headache, chills, body aches, nausea. Those are really the most common. It's rare for somebody to get all of those side effects, and there are some people that get no side effects, but a change in hair color is not one that I'm familiar with, Wanda.

[00:52:11]Bill Walsh:  All right, we'll add it to the list. Jean, who is next on the line?

[00:52:17]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Monita from Indiana.

[00:52:21]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Monita, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:52:24]Monita:  My question is, I have heard two different stories. I've heard that you can only catch the COVID by touching things that other people have touched, and others say that you can only catch it by the air. What's the truth?

[00:52:45]Bill Walsh:  Hmm, Dr. Roy, I think there has been actually some guidance around the COVID vaccine lingering on surfaces. Can you shed some light on that question?

[00:52:55]Lipi Roy:  Yeah, we now actually, so first of all, Monita, thank you for asking that question. We now have over a year's worth of data, which may not seem that much, but it's more than what we had like a year ago. So actually, studies have shown that transmission from surfaces is really not that common or high of mode of transmission. The thing to remember is that this coronavirus, the way that it transmits is through respiratory droplets and that are in your nose or nasal pharynx, and in your mouth. So that's why wearing that mask, covering your nose and mouth was so lifesaving, and it still is lifesaving. This virus transmits from person to person from respiratory droplets. But the vaccine can decrease that transmission from your mouth and nose to other people. So that's why the vaccine, getting that vaccine is so important. But also, hand hygiene and distancing along with the masking and the vaccines are other highly effective measures, as well.

[00:54:00]Bill Walsh:  OK, Dr. Roy, thank you so much for that. Jean, who do we have next on the line?

[00:54:04]Jean Setzfand:  Next caller is James from Michigan.

[00:54:07]Bill Walsh:  Hey James, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:54:10]James:  Yeah, I think that most people, at least that I know will trust, a question of trust, will trust their family doctor. But the family doctor is overwhelmed with 300 patients. And so you can't get to your family doctor. Is there a way that family doctors can be reached and can help with the trust problem?

[00:54:38]Bill Walsh:  It's a great point, and I think throughout the pandemic, trust in physicians has probably only gone up. Dr. Roy, I wonder if you can answer the question directly, and maybe, Joan, weigh in on it on other sources that we can trust.

[00:54:56]Lipi Roy:  You know, the caller, James, thank you. I feel your frustration, my friend. This is something that many, many patients and many people in the public experience, which is an inability to reach their doctors on time. Clinics are well aware of this. As I said earlier, burnout amongst health care workers was an epidemic before the COVID-19 pandemic. So look, if you're unable to reach your family doctor, that's OK. There are many other sources of reliable information. We've already talked about several just on this program. The AARP is a great example, a great resource, the CDC, the Mayo Clinic, Mass General Hospital, NYU, but the hospital or academic center in your local area, the public health department in your area, but just googling “CDC” and whatever your question is, your question will be answered in a reliable and accurate manner, James.

[00:55:53]Bill Walsh:  Joan, I wonder if you could just weigh in on some go-to trustworthy sources at this critical time.

[00:56:01]Joan Lunden:  Well, interestingly, there's a couple of things that I thought were important to bring up. Number one, telemedicine is something, it's funny because a year ago I did a podcast for the Washington Post and Cleveland Clinic, and one of our shows was about the emergence of telemedicine, which they expected to maybe rollout over a five to 10 year period. And, of course, the pandemic hit, and it rolled out overnight. And so most of the doctors are making themselves available through telemedicine, but the big concern is that if you have a disconnect with your doctor, and so many people have had a disconnect from their annual checkups, women didn't get mammograms, women haven't been getting them for, you know, three, four months. The clinics were just downright closed, and then they've opened up, but there's been such a backlog from all the people who couldn't get in for those four months or so. And physicians that I talked to, whether they're, you know, cancer physicians or primary care physicians, they're really worried that a lot of people will have missed, during this 14-month period where they haven't been able to go to the doctor or then have been reluctant to go into a doctor’s office and have eventually kind of become just disconnected from their health routine, that we are going to miss a lot of diagnoses, and we're going to miss early diagnosis, which for many, many different chronic illnesses can make the difference in a person's prognosis.

[00:57:44] So everybody that's listening, if you didn't get your colonoscopy, if you didn't get your mammogram, and if you haven't been in for your annual checkup and get a CBC while you're doing that, call the doctor and make an appointment. And if you can't get it for a few months, just go ahead and take it. Before you know it, that time will come up, and we all have to be our own advocate. We all have to be the CEO in charge of our own health care, because you know, it's not like the old days where there was a family doctor, and he knew everything about your health risk. We all see a multitude of doctors. They're not talking to each other. So you've got to be the gatekeeper. And if there's one thing we can try to impress upon everybody here, it's don't let this pandemic stop you from getting all the checkups that you need.

[00:58:37]Bill Walsh:  Right. Well, that sounds like a terrific way to close us out, Joan. I wonder if Alex and Dr. Roy have any other recommendations for our listeners and our viewers. Dr. Roy?

[00:58:50]Lipi Roy:  Well, first of all, I am so glad that AARP put on this event. This pandemic has really reinforced the idea that without your health, you have nothing, right? This pandemic has shown us that this one virus just dominated the world. Stopped the world in its tracks. And as a reminder, the United States tends to invest money in things like say the military, in financial sector, but it doesn't invest as much in the leading causes of death, which are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, and pneumonia, Alzheimer's are all in the top 10. We need to invest in public health and in health from your local, state and federal health agencies. And we just need to take care of one another, Bill.

[00:59:45]Bill Walsh:  OK. Thank you so much for that. Alex, any closing thoughts or recommendations?

[00:59:51]Alex Mahadevan:  Well, I do want to thank you for letting me be here and talk about a really important topic and, you know, misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic is near and dear to my heart as someone who's been following this for more than a year. I'll just say nobody likes to be misled online, whether it's to share a miracle cure or bad information about vaccines or scams. So try to be your own fact-checker. Trust your gut when you see something online. But overall, this is what I try to tell people all the time is, be kind to yourself and be kind to others. There's a lot of terrible stuff online. Misinformation is a part of it, but just try to be kind to each other.

[01:00:38]Bill Walsh:  All right, thank you, Alex. And Joan, I think you wanted to talk a little bit about a MediaWise opportunity for those who have tuned in tonight?

[01:00:46]Joan Lunden:  I sure do. MediaWise is offering a free, fact-checking online course. I really encourage you to do this, for all the AARP members. So I'm going to tell you how to go to it. You can register at https://poy.nu/AARP, and AARP has to be all big letters. So once again, https://poy.nu/AARP all in caps. I highly recommend that you do this. You're going to learn so much, and you're going to be empowered as to how you take in all your information online, wherever you get all your information.

[01:01:44]Bill Walsh:  All right, Joan, well, we got some great information from our experts here tonight. Thank you, all. This has been a really informative discussion, and I appreciate all of our experts for answering our questions. I want to thank you also, our AARP members, volunteers, listeners and viewers for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we're providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced here, including a recording of this evening's Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning May 21, tomorrow. Again, that web address is aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. We hope you learned something that can keep you and your loved ones healthy, and help you identify the reality versus rumors when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine. Please tune in June 3rd at 1 p.m. ET for another live event answering your questions about the coronavirus. Thank you and have a good evening. This concludes our event.

[01:03:26]

Bill Walsh: Hola, soy Bill Walsh, vicepresidente de AARP y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus. Antes de comenzar, si quieren escuchar este evento en vivo en español, presionen asterisco-cero en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

Intérprete español: Para escuchar en español, presione asterisco y cero en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: AARP, una organización sin fines de lucro y sin afiliación política, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores de EE.UU. por más de 60 años. Frente a la pandemia mundial del coronavirus, AARP está proporcionando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan.

 

En todos los estados, las personas de 18 años o más ahora pueden recibir la vacuna, y el acceso está mejorando en todo el país. Más del 84% de las personas de 65 años o más han recibido al menos una dosis. Aunque esto es alentador, algunas personas siguen debatiendo con la decisión sobre si deben registrarse para recibir una vacuna o no.

 

Esto llega en un momento en que nuevas variantes de COVID-19 continúan propagándose, junto con información engañosa sobre el virus y las vacunas. De hecho, hemos visto una proliferación de rumores, falsedades y estafas que han dejado a muchas personas preguntándose en quién deberían confiar ante esta crisis de salud pública. Esta tarde, escucharemos a un impresionante panel de expertos sobre estas cuestiones y más.

 

Si han participado en uno de nuestros eventos en vivo, saben que esto es similar a nuestro programa de radio y tienen la oportunidad de hacer sus preguntas en vivo. Para quienes nos acompañan por teléfono, si quieren hacer una pregunta sobre la pandemia del coronavirus, presionen asterisco-tres en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará su nombre y su pregunta, y los pondrá en una cola para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Si quieren escuchar en español, presionen asterisco-cero en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

Intérprete de español: Si usted desea escuchar en español, presione asterisco y cero en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Si se unen a través de Facebook o YouTube, pueden publicar sus preguntas en la sección de comentarios. Hola, si acaban de unirse, soy Bill Walsh con AARP, y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre información engañosa en la pandemia global del coronavirus. Estamos hablando con expertos destacados y tomando sus preguntas en vivo.

 

Para hacer su pregunta, por favor presionen asterisco-tres en el teclado de su teléfono, y si se unen a través de Facebook o YouTube, pueden publicar su pregunta en la sección de comentarios. Hoy nos acompañan unos invitados excepcionales, a quienes presentaremos en un momento. Este evento está siendo grabado y pueden acceder a la grabación en AARP.org/coronavirus, 24 horas después de que terminemos. De nuevo, para hacer su pregunta, por favor presionen asterisco-tres en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP, o, si se unen a través de Facebook o YouTube, pongan su pregunta en los comentarios.

 

Ahora me gustaría darle la bienvenida a nuestros invitados. Joan Lunden es periodista, autora de éxitos de librería y presentadora de televisión. En el 2020, firmó como embajadora de MediaWise, un grupo de destacados periodistas e influenciadores de los medios que ayudan a promover la misión de MediaWise, que es empoderar a personas de todas las edades a ser consumidores más críticos de contenido en línea. Joan también ejerce como una de las principales instructoras para el curso de alfabetización mediática digital en línea de MediaWise for Seniors, Fact-Checking 101. Bienvenida, Joan.

 

Joan Lunden: Es un placer estar aquí con todos ustedes esta noche, gracias por invitarme.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, estamos encantados de tenerte. También nos acompaña la Dra. Lipi Roy, directora médica de los centros de aislamiento y cuarentena de COVID en Housing Works, una organización sin fines de lucro en la ciudad de New York. Es colaboradora de Forbes y excolaboradora médica de MSNBC y NBC News. Bienvenida al programa, doctora.

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: (Sin sonido)

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, solo un recordatorio, para hacer su pregunta, presionen asterisco-tres en el teclado de su teléfono, o puede dejarla en la sección de comentarios en Facebook o YouTube. Comencemos con la discusión. Joan, vamos a proceder y empezar con usted. Todos los días nos bombardean con noticias e información sobre la COVID-19 y a veces es difícil diferenciar la realidad de los rumores. Así que, déjeme preguntarle, ¿cuál es la diferencia entre la información engañosa y la desinformación, y por qué esta pandemia es un terreno tan fértil para ambas?

 

Joan Lunden: ¿Sabes? Creo que todo se reduce a la intención. La información engañosa simplemente es información falsa, o tal vez información fuera de contexto, que casi se comparte por error. Piensa en tu tía o tu tío, o primo o quien sea, ellos ven algo que suena tan grandioso, "Una cura milagrosa para la COVID-19", y con todas las buenas intenciones, quieren compartirlo con todos sus conocidos en Facebook.

 

Pero, aunque tenían buenas intenciones, y quizás ni siquiera eran conscientes de que estaban compartiendo información falsa, lo hacen. Pero la desinformación es algo totalmente diferente. La desinformación es información falsa que se comparte a propósito, y a veces se comparte para realizar una estafa, ya sabes, cuando vimos, y puede que mucha gente haya experimentado algunas de las cosas de las que vamos a hablar esta noche, al comienzo de la pandemia, los estafadores venían con todas estas "curas", por supuesto, por tu dinero.

 

Y luego, cuando la vacuna comenzó a distribuirse, había una gran estafa en la que engañaban a la gente para que dieran su información personal, y a veces el dinero que tanto les costó ganar, para conseguir un "mejor turno en la fila" para obtener esa vacuna, porque todos estaban muy deseosos de obtener la vacuna.

 

Así que, todo esto genera un terreno realmente fértil, pero también tenemos la llegada de la tecnología y las redes sociales y los algoritmos, y todos hemos estado en nuestra casa, también, así que tienes ese deseo de conectar con otras personas. Si juntas todo esto, realmente es como la tormenta perfecta, porque la gente está lidiando con algo sin precedentes y tan desconocido, que están buscando algo que le dé sentido a todo esto, y a veces se aferran a cosas que no son reales, e inconscientemente, involuntariamente, lo comparten con otros.

 

Bill Walsh: Cierto. Bueno, gracias por eso, Joan. Un seguimiento rápido, me pregunto si puede compartir algunos ejemplos de información engañosa específica de la pandemia que ha sido perjudicial.

 

Joan Lunden: Oh, Dios mío, hay tantos. Ya sabes, cuando los cheques de estímulo de COVID-19 salieron por primera vez, había muchas maneras diferentes en que la gente estaba siendo estafada. Quiero decir, como un ejemplo, había una en que un concesionario de autos usados le estaba enviando cheques falsos a la gente, que solo podían usarse, por supuesto, en este concesionario de autos usados. Y realmente consiguió que la gente participara, y luego los convencieron de comprar autos, pensando que les estaban descontando esta cantidad de dinero del auto. Eso solo es para darte una idea de cómo las personas ideaban todas estas formas diferentes.

 

Pero la más importante, la información engañosa más perjudicial y viral realmente ha venido de todas estas publicaciones que han afirmado falsamente que las personas están muriendo, que miles de personas están muriendo por la vacuna. Eso simplemente no es cierto. Ya sabes, a veces estas cosas provienen de una pequeña semilla de un reporte de algún lugar, pero se ha comprobado, en definitiva, que no son ciertas, pero cuando las personas ven, ya sabes, hubo algunas personas a las que se les formaron coágulos con la vacuna de J&J, por ejemplo.

 

Seis personas de seis millones tuvieron estos coágulos de sangre, lo que, por supuesto, hizo que todo el mundo hiciera una pausa con esa vacuna. Ahora han continuado con ella, y por cierto, esas seis personas no murieron, pero todo lo que se necesita es algo como eso para que la persona que se pregunta si va a ir a vacunarse diga, "Bueno, entonces todas son malas". Últimamente he visto algunas sobre el "ARNm", así es como se produce esta vacuna, a diferencia de la vacuna de la gripe y de algunas del pasado, es una forma realmente única y nueva de producir una vacuna, y ha habido muchos artículos que dicen que eso puede causar infertilidad.

 

Bueno, estoy aquí para decirles que eso no es cierto. Los datos han demostrado firmemente que ese no es el caso, pero eso surgió porque, creo que fue un epidemiólogo alemán el pasado diciembre, si no me equivoco, se le ocurrió la teoría de que las vacunas contra la COVID-19 podrían hacer que el cuerpo de una mujer rechazara una pequeña proteína que está conectada a la placenta, y por lo tanto su idea era que como ese pequeño código genético de la placenta compartía una vaga similitud con el pico en la proteína en la COVID-19, y dijo, "Bueno, si las vacunas hacen que nuestro cuerpo cree anticuerpos para protegernos contra la COVID-19...".

 

Su idea fue que también podrían crear anticuerpos para rechazar la placenta. Y puede que ahora mismo estés diciendo, "Eso suena ridículo", pero era su teoría, y la publicó y ahora ha sido refutada. Pero mientras tanto, las personas escuchan esto y se aferran a ello, y se comparte una y otra vez. ¿Qué tal aquella de que hay microchips...? No, espera, Bill Gates puso los microchips en las vacunas, que, ya sabes, ¿es necesario que intente defender eso?

 

Y una de las últimas que he visto últimamente es que tienen aluminio, y que esto nos va a hacer daño. Bueno, el aluminio en realidad, se ha utilizado en otras vacunas, y aquí es donde ves estas historias. No esta, pueden ir a la página web de la FDA, pueden ver todos los ingredientes en la vacuna de Pfizer y en la de Moderna, simplemente no está ahí. O ninguna de las otras cosas descabelladas que dicen que hay ahí.

 

Pueden ir y pueden ver, los hechos están ahí. Y, por cierto, incluso esas, el aluminio no se usa en la cantidad que nos haría daño, incluso esas otras vacunas, a todos los antivacunas, porque el aluminio está en la tierra. Así que todo lo que comemos viene de la tierra, y comemos mucho más aluminio diariamente de lo que hay en cualquiera de esas vacunas. En resumen, la vacuna contra la COVID-19 no contiene aluminio, ninguna de ellas.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Bueno, gracias por eso.

 

Joan Lunden: ¡Pero no es como si los hechos estuvieran ahí!

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, gracias por eso, Joan. Es sorprendente cómo estos rumores comienzan y cómo se propagan, y mencionaste uno del que quería preguntarle a la Dra. Roy. Dra. Roy, un pequeño número de voces, como se refería Joan, sigue sugiriendo que un gran número de muertes han sido causadas por las vacunas contra la COVID-19, más de 3,000, según algunos. ¿Es esto cierto? ¿Puede hablar sobre este rumor?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Antes que nada, Bill, Solo quiero decir que esta vez me acordé de quitarle el silencio a mi micrófono, y segundo, (risas) ¿cuántas veces lo hemos dicho? Es lo mismo para el 2020, ¿cierto? "¿Puedes quitar el silencio?". Y en segundo lugar, me encantaría reclutar a Joan Lunden para el equipo médico de Housing Works, porque ayer le di una presentación a una de nuestras clínicas sobre información engañosa y mitos sobre la vacuna, y uno de ellos es exactamente lo que Joan acaba de mencionar, de que la fertilidad de la mujer está vinculada a las vacunas.

 

Y a lo que Joan se estaba refiriendo en realidad se llama sincitina-1, que es similar a la proteína de pico en el coronavirus, pero son dos proteínas muy diferentes. Así que, sí, está involucrada con el desarrollo de la placenta, como sea, gracias, Joan, por decir todo eso. Y para contestar tu pregunta, Bill, quiero decir, ese es otro ejemplo de información engañosa.

 

Estas vacunas son increíblemente seguras, y solo para dar un paso atrás para los miembros de tu audiencia, las vacunas son medicamentos que se someten a las normas más estrictas de seguridad, más que cualquier otro medicamento que esté en su botiquín ahora mismo. Y la razón de eso es que las vacunas están diseñadas para las personas sanas, niños y adultos sanos.

 

Como resultado, tienen que someterse a las normas más estrictas de seguridad. Las vacunas no se han asociado a muertes, y si acaso, lo que se ha comprobado es que no solo son seguras, sino extremadamente eficaces. Las vacunas de ARNm, la de Pfizer/Biotech y la de Moderna, son 95% efectivas, y la de J&J está entre el 72 y el 86%; 72% para la población general y 86% para la prevención de enfermedad grave, o reducción del riesgo. Así que estas vacunas son increíblemente eficaces y seguras, y las tres cosas que hacen por igual es reducir el riesgo de enfermedad grave, hospitalización y muerte.

 

En última instancia, eso es lo que quieres. Y solo como un recordatorio, Bill, recordemos que la pandemia de COVID-19 está muy presente aquí en Estados Unidos, tenemos mutantes que vienen de otros países que ya están aquí, o cepas mutantes debería decir, y recuerda, esta es una enfermedad que ha cobrado casi 590,000 vidas solo en este país. Es una enfermedad para la que tenemos un tratamiento moderadamente eficaz, y ciertamente ninguna cura, pero tenemos técnicas de prevención eficaces; mascarillas, distanciamiento, y ahora múltiples candidatos de vacunas, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Entonces, Dra. Roy, acaba de hacer un buen trabajo dándonos algunos datos y cifras realmente interesantes sobre las vacunas, ¿cuál es su mejor argumento a favor de vacunarse para alguien que aún se resiste?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Me alegro de que lo preguntes, Bill, esta es una conversación que tengo literalmente todos los días en Housing Works, en la clínica de reducción de daño donde trabajo en el Bronx, y en los centros de vacunación donde trabajo en toda la ciudad de New York. No solo con mis pacientes, el público general, sino también con nuestro personal.

 

Tenemos a varios trabajadores de la salud que son enfermeras, asistentes médicos, enfermeras practicantes, que aún se han negado a vacunarse. Así que, lo que realmente enfatizo es que, en la historia, en la historia humana, la intervención de salud pública más exitosa han sido las vacunas. Han salvado millones de vidas. Nosotros, ahora en los años 2000, realmente no estamos familiarizados con el hecho de que hubo un momento en la historia en que las enfermedades infecciosas mataban a la mayoría de la gente.

 

Y en ciertas partes del mundo, aún sucede. Así que es un milagro de la ciencia que vivamos en una época y un lugar donde no muramos de tétanos, difteria, polio, tifoidea, influenza, todas estas son enfermedades que aún matan gente, pero en números drásticamente bajos debido a la vacunación y la higiene, agua limpia, cosas como esas. Así que, el mensaje clave, Bill, es que las vacunas son seguras, son eficaces, y realmente no tenemos una cura para este virus, este nuevo coronavirus, del que aún estamos aprendiendo todos los días. Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Dra. Roy, muchas gracias por eso. Joan, volvamos contigo. ¿Cómo es que las decisiones de retrasar o pausar algunas de las vacunas, como la de Johnson & Johnson en Estados Unidos o la de AstraZeneca en Europa, hacen que sea más fácil propagar información engañosa? ¿Hay ejemplos de información engañosa que podamos reconocer?

 

Joan Lunden: Creo que estamos viviendo en un mundo de, "¿Ves? Te lo dije". Todos, debido a los algoritmos, obtienen su propio conjunto de datos. Vemos diferentes noticieros, dependiendo de nuestra salud o creencias políticas, y cuando buscamos cosas en nuestras computadoras, nuestras computadoras aprenden lo que pensamos, solo por lo que hemos visitado una y otra vez.

 

Cada uno de nosotros vive en su pequeño silo, nuestro pequeño silo de hechos. Cuando alguien está preocupado por recibir la vacuna, o cree algunos de estos mitos que están circulando, cuando de repente una vacuna se pone en pausa, ese es el momento de "Te lo dije", porque están buscando algo para validar su creencia.

 

Con esto, se trata de una crisis de salud sin precedentes, y es la primera vez que hemos tenido una crisis de salud al mismo tiempo que hemos tenido tecnología y redes sociales. Si juntas eso con que la ciencia cambia constantemente, es difícil para el público general incluso estar al tanto de las últimas noticias.

 

Y cuando ven esa pausa, como la que ocurrió, y luego ven que se quita, deja a la gente en una especie de caída libre. Y ya sabes, obviamente, bueno yo digo obviamente, pero los CDC y la FDA no la habrían vuelto a poner en uso negligentemente. Y aun así hay gente que está completamente convencida de que, ya sabes, de que no es seguro recibirla.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Fue Mark Twain quien dijo que una mentira puede recorrer la tierra antes de que la verdad tenga la oportunidad de levantarse de su silla? Creo que eso solamente se ha acelerado en la época del internet, ¿no es así? Bueno, ahora es momento de responder algunas de sus preguntas sobre las vacunas, la realidad contra los rumores, con Joan Lunden y la Dra. Lipi Roy.

 

Como recordatorio, por favor, presionen asterisco-tres en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP para compartir su pregunta. Ahora me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas y preguntas desde Facebook y YouTube. Bienvenida, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: Muchas gracias, Bill, encantada de estar aquí para esta importante conversación.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ¿a quién tenemos primero en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: La primera llamada es de Matt de New York.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Matt, bienvenido al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Matt: Bien, mi pregunta es esta; hemos escuchado de personas que fueron vacunadas, como ocho miembros del equipo de béisbol de los Yankees de New York, y otros que subsecuentemente dieron positivo. Y francamente, no confío en la ciudad de New York o en el Gobierno estatal de New York. ¿Debería hacerme la prueba, a pesar del hecho de que fui vacunado?

 

Bill Walsh: Dra. Roy, ¿quiere responder esa pregunta?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Sí, muchas gracias por preguntar eso, y sí, eso ha suscitado la preocupación de mucha gente, y como señaló la persona, no solo miembros de los Yankees de New York, Bill Maher, muchas otras celebridades, sino que muchos de mis pacientes han dicho, "Oiga, doctora, no quiero vacunarme porque escuché que puedes vacunarte y aun así contraer COVID-19".

 

Entonces, no es que los científicos hayan mentido, los CDC no han mentido, han sido muy claros en términos de lo que la vacuna hace exactamente. La vacuna reduce significativamente la infección y transmisión asintomática, así que, en otras palabras, el riesgo de contraer COVID-19 se reduce significativamente una vez que estás vacunado.

 

Además, el riesgo de trasmitir el virus a alguien más también se reduce significativamente. Pero recuerda, ninguna medida de prevención en toda la ciencia y la medicina es 100% efectiva, así que podría vacunarse y aun así dar positivo, por lo que aún recomiendan usar una mascarilla. Y recomiendan que todos los demás a su alrededor se vacunen, porque entonces el riesgo de contraer el virus se reduce significativamente.

 

Lo más importante que hay que recordar es que una vez que estés vacunado, si aun así das positivo, el riesgo de contraer una enfermedad grave, hospitalización o morir a causa del virus se reduce significativamente, como un 95, del 85 al 95%, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias por eso. Dra. Roy. Regresemos a la línea. Jean, ¿quién es el próximo?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra siguiente llamada es de Martha de Texas.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Martha, bienvenida al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Martha: Hola, escuché a la señora, creo que fue Joan, dijo que seis personas contrajeron el, quiero decir, lo siento, tuvieron coágulos con la vacuna de J&J, y todos sobrevivieron. Escuché en las noticias que una murió y que una estaba en soporte vital.

 

Bill Walsh: Creo, creo que es correcto, Joan, ¿quieres clarificar eso?

 

Joan Lunden: Sí, dije que no todos murieron. Una murió y una está, no sé si está en soporte vital, pero sé que está en el hospital. Pero, ya sabes, hay que ver la salud de la población, la salud pública. Hay que ver esto de forma global, porque nosotros podemos hacer cosas aquí en este país, pero si no ayudamos a otros países, esta pandemia no va a terminar hasta que podamos controlarla en todo el mundo.

 

Y si no podemos adelantarnos a ello, entonces se vuelve algo llamado endemia. Y esto es nuevo y sin precedentes, que hayamos tenido un virus tan virulento, así que cuando vemos una vacuna y se la das a seis millones de personas, que entonces son vacunadas y no se enfermarán ni morirán, y hay seis personas que tuvieron coágulos, y para cuatro de ellas no fue significativo, así es cómo, ya sabes, de nuevo, creo que fue la doctora o Bill quien dijo, la doctora dijo, que nada es 100% eficaz, pero la meta es tratar de vacunar a nivel mundial.

 

Y por cierto, si conduces un auto, es mucho más probable tener un accidente, un accidente fatal, que recibiendo una de estas vacunas. Si vuelas, quiero decir, podrías nombrar otras diez cosas que podrías hacer sin pensar en ellas, que te ponen en mucho más riesgo de morir que recibir la vacuna, y doctora, por favor corríjame si me equivoco, pero estoy bastante segura de que mis datos son correctos.

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Joan, tienes toda la razón, y permítanme también aclararle a Martha, que desde, creo que ayer, más de ocho millones de dosis de J&J se han distribuido en todo el mundo, y hay quizás unos quince casos ahora, definitivamente son como quince o veinte casos, de este raro coágulo de sangre, pero solo mira esos números. Quince de ocho millones, quiero decir, hay medicamentos que las personas toman todos los días que aumentan su riesgo de padecer un coágulo, como digamos, los anticonceptivos orales son como uno en 5,000.

 

Así que, solo quiero que recuerden que estos efectos secundarios son extremadamente raros. Y miren, el Tylenol de uso cotidiano que toman para el dolor y la fiebre, es la principal causa de insuficiencia hepática aguda. El ibuprofeno puede causar insuficiencia renal y hemorragia estomacal. Así que, solo quiero que las personas recuerden, que pongan las cosas en perspectiva.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien. Bueno, gracias ambas por eso. Jean, tomemos otra llamada.

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra siguiente llamada es de Charlie de Delaware.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Charlie, bienvenido al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Charlie: Había escuchado que en seis meses o en otoño, tenemos que ponernos una vacuna de refuerzo para mantener la eficacia de las vacunas. ¿Es eso cierto?

 

Bill Walsh: Esa es una pregunta que escuchamos a menudo. Dra. Roy, ¿tiene una respuesta?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Bueno, Charlie, la respuesta corta es que no lo sabemos. Pero parece que es así, que probablemente vamos a necesitar una vacuna de refuerzo. Si escuchas al Dr. Fauci en la televisión, dijo múltiples veces que, basados en los datos, de nuevo, no tenemos datos a muy largo plazo sobre ninguno de estos nuevos candidatos de vacunas, pero puede que necesitemos una vacuna de refuerzo, tal vez en seis meses o en un año. Pero siga prestando atención a las noticias y a los datos de los CDC y la FDA, lo descubriremos pronto.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Sabes? Me sorprende, escuchando las preguntas que hemos recibido hasta ahora, que aún hay mucha información engañosa, un poco de incertidumbre por ahí sobre a quién creerle, a qué fuentes creerle. Me pregunto si Joan y la Dra. Roy, podrían muy rápidamente, darnos una idea de cómo se supone que los consumidores ordinarios puedan verificar algunas de las cosas que están escuchando.

 

Joan Lunden: Creo que esa es la razón por la que toda la información engañosa se propaga tan rápido, porque las personas tienen ese deseo. Quieren saber lo que es real, y desafortunadamente, en el último año hemos tenido una ruptura de la confianza, y eso probablemente ha sido casi tan, bueno, el virus es el virus, pero quiero decir, esa también ha sido una de las cosas que nos ha atacado.

 

La Organización Mundial de la Salud dice que no solo estamos lidiando con una pandemia sin precedentes, sino que también estamos lidiando con una “infodemia” sin precedentes, y eso realmente es, ya sabes, una cantidad excesiva de información que está en línea y fuera de línea, pero que está llena de información engañosa, y rompe la confianza de la gente en la ciencia y en los medios de comunicación.

 

Y eso es algo increíblemente peligroso en cualquier momento, pero sobre todo durante una pandemia contra un virus virulento. Así que, pienso que va a tomar un tiempo, creo, y a mí, que llevo 40 años en el periodismo, me entristece mucho. Y realmente va a requerir mucho tratar de recuperar esa confianza, pero ya sabe, Dra. Roy, estoy segura de que añadirá aquí, la confianza en la ciencia es muy importante al tratar de lograr la salud pública.

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Sí, Bill, ¿puedo añadir algo? Me encanta la opinión que Joan acaba de dar. ¿Sabes? Desde el comienzo de esta pandemia, que ahora ha durado más de un año, lo que realmente me ha preocupado, frustrado y francamente molestado a mí y a mis colegas profesionales de la salud, profesionales médicos y de salud pública, es el hecho de que esta enfermedad, este brote infeccioso que no discrimina, fue politizado desde el primer día.

 

No solo aquí en los Estados Unidos, sino también en otros países, y como resultado ha afectado negativamente las terapias e intervenciones que salvan vidas para, francamente, millones de personas en Estados Unidos y en todo el mundo. Eso es muy desafortunado. El liderazgo es importante. El liderazgo de nuestros oficiales electos, hasta los miembros de nuestra comunidad local.

 

Así que, tengo que decir que estoy muy contenta de ver que ahora estamos, que tenemos una Administración que apoya y escucha plenamente a sus asesores científicos y médicos antes de tomar decisiones políticas, porque como doctora, solo soy una persona, no puedo hacer este trabajo sin la asociación y colaboración de organizaciones como AARP, como periodistas legendarios como Joan Lunden, compartiendo información basada en evidencia y que salva vidas. Y en cuanto a qué organizaciones seguir y confiar, los CDC en este momento, con el liderazgo de la Dra. Rochelle Walensky, la FDA, pero también, miren los hospitales en sus ciudades locales.

 

Yo solía trabajar en Boston, entonces, Mass General, Brigham, Boston Medical Center, la Universidad de Pittsburgh; quiero decir, hay muchos hospitales y centros médicos académicos en todo el país, así como departamentos de salud pública en ciudades y condados que, desafortunadamente, no han tenido suficiente financiación durante años, espero que eso cambie, pero confíen en esos departamentos de salud pública y centros médicos académicos como fuentes confiables de información, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias a las dos, y permítanme desviar la conversación hacia ti, Joan, y aquí es donde se pone un poco difícil. ¿Cómo podemos hablar con un familiar o amigo que está compartiendo información que parece dudosa, o que descaradamente propaga información falsa o mala?

 

Joan Lunden: Bueno, en primer lugar, déjenme decir que, como su primo, o su hermano o su madre, o quien sea, compartió algo y lo ven y dicen, "¿Qué? ¿Qué está pasando?", recuerden primero que la relación es lo importante, número uno. Otra cosa que creo que no podemos escuchar lo suficiente, es que no tienen que responder a todo en línea, ¿saben? Así que piensen antes de hacerlo.

 

Y la otra cosa es que las personas tienen una tendencia a decir cosas en línea, ya sabes, escribiéndolo con sus dedos, que nunca le dirían en persona a un individuo. Así que, aunque puede que hayan descubierto esta discrepancia en línea, tengan la conversación en persona. En primer lugar, respiren profundo, controlen sus emociones, normalmente esta información no se comparte porque alguien esté tratando de hacerle daño a alguien más.

 

Están tratando de compartir algo que ellos creen que es buena información. Tengan la conversación en persona o por teléfono, o al menos en algún tipo de, ya saben, mensaje privado, por lo menos. Y luego recuerden cómo hacíamos las presentaciones en la escuela. Mostrábamos cosas al tiempo que contábamos cosas, así que no solo digan, "Estás equivocado porque lo digo yo".

 

Eso nunca va a funcionar. Encuentren un artículo, y si pueden, encuentren un artículo o tal vez con alguien que saben que ese familiar también respeta y confía, eso lo hará aún mejor, y muéstrenles eso. En otras palabras, y si saben cómo verificar los datos, lo cual vamos a enseñarles aquí en algún punto, inscríbanse al curso, muéstrenles cómo verificar datos.

 

Muéstrenles cómo hacer una revisión de imagen invertida en una imagen que compartieron pensando que era real, y muéstrenles que no lo era. Quiero decir, de esa forma, en primer lugar, se ven geniales e inteligentes, pero también estarán enseñándoles a hacer algo para que piensen primero y verifiquen los datos después, antes de compartir algo de nuevo.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, gracias por esos consejos, Joan. Dra. Roy, volviendo con usted, hemos escuchado mucho sobre el impacto de la pandemia en la salud mental. ¿Cómo podría contribuir la información engañosa al estrés y miedo y ansiedad que la gente está sintiendo?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Sí, estoy muy contenta de que hayas hecho esta pregunta, Bill, es muy importante. En realidad, estoy trabajando en una editorial con un par de mis colegas abordando la enorme carga de la COVID-19, la carga de salud mental y psicológica en los doctores de la India, como creo que la mayoría sabe, ahora, no han podido contener la pandemia allá.

 

Así que, permíteme responder esta pregunta sobre la salud mental en tres formas. Una es que la información engañosa sobre las vacunas significará que un segmento de la población rechazará la vacuna y estará en riesgo de contraer COVID-19, lo que puede resultar en síntomas a largo plazo, incluyendo confusión mental y otras consecuencias a largo plazo que aún no conocemos, así que está ese aspecto.

 

El personal de salud seguirá afrontando la carga de atender a pacientes con COVID-19 además de a otros pacientes con otras enfermedades, como enfermedades cardíacas y accidentes cardiovasculares, y diabetes e insuficiencia renal, accidentes automovilísticos, que exacerbarán su agotamiento, fatiga, ansiedad, depresión; y recuerden, el agotamiento clínico era una epidemia antes de COVID-19.

 

Y luego, por último pero no menos importante, la ansiedad global durante una pandemia en curso. ¿Los negocios, escuelas, entretenimiento en vivo, conferencias, viajes, etcétera, realmente volverán a abrirse por completo? Esto va a llevar al desempleo, inseguridad de vivienda y alimentaria, todo eso se traducirá en ansiedad continua.

 

Todo está conectado, Bill, así que, de nuevo, voy a poner, siempre me pongo mi sombrero de médico y de defensora de la salud pública. Por favor, por favor, vacúnense. Es una medida que salva vidas, no solo estarán salvándose a sí mismos, sino que mejorarán la salud y forma de vida de aquellos que les rodean, sus seres queridos, y del resto de la comunidad. Vivimos en un mundo con otras personas. Siempre lo hemos hecho y siempre lo haremos.

 

Bill Walsh: Me gusta a dónde te diriges con el efecto dominó de la pandemia, así que me gustaría hacerte una pregunta de seguimiento en esa línea. ¿Cómo se han revelado los desafíos de la pandemia en nuestro bienestar físico?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Sí, estoy muy contenta de que hayas preguntado eso. Me encanta hablar sobre estas cosas. Entonces, en primer lugar, voy a responderlo en tres formas diferentes. La infección de COVID-19, y recuerden, este no es solo un virus respiratorio, como la influenza, este virus en particular causa manifestaciones multiorgánicas.

 

La gente contrae miocarditis o una enfermedad cardíaca, gastrointestinal, neurológica, así que hay múltiples manifestaciones médicas o físicas en ese sentido. Y luego, solo las medidas de mitigación de quedarse en casa, trabajar de forma remota, eso ha llevado a esta falta de estructura en nuestra vida, y los estudios han demostrado que estas medidas de quedarse en casa han llevado a un aumento de los comportamientos sedentarios, una disminución del ejercicio, recuerden que la mayoría de los gimnasios están cerrados, malos hábitos alimenticios, aumento de peso, especialmente entre los que padecen obesidad.

 

Y el tercer aspecto es realmente la ansiedad e incertidumbre inducidas por la pandemia, lo que ha provocado dificultades para dormir y concentrarse, un aumento en el uso de alcohol, tabaco y otras sustancias, así como un aumento en sobredosis de drogas. De nuevo, la sobredosis de drogas y la adicción a los opioides, todo esto era una pandemia antes de la pandemia, y mi trabajo diurno no es solo de médico internista, también soy médico de adicciones, así que estos son temas y cuestiones de salud que resuenan fuertemente conmigo y para muchos de mis pacientes, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Sabes? Parece que de muchas maneras la pandemia va a permanecer con nosotros durante mucho tiempo, incluso una vez que pasemos a la inmunidad de grupo y a las vacunas en todo el país. Así que gracias a las dos por esos comentarios. Y como dijimos al principio, ya saben, además de la información engañosa, hemos visto una proliferación de estafas durante la pandemia. Traigamos a Alex Mahadevan. Alex es un experimentado reportero multimedia en MediaWise. Bienvenido, Alex.

 

Alex Mahadevan: Es un placer estar aquí.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias por estar con nosotros, y también me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP, Amy Nofziger. Amy es la directora de la Línea de ayuda contra el fraude, de AARP, y está aquí para ayudarnos a clasificar algunas de las estafas y cómo evitar ser víctima de una de ellas. Bienvenida, Amy.

 

Amy Nofziger: Gracias por invitarme, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Alex, comencemos contigo. Muchas de estas estafas parecen familiares, ¿por qué es eso?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, parecen familiares porque lo son. Los estafadores usarán los mismos tipos de información engañosa para conseguir tus datos personales o dinero como lo harían, realmente, para cualquier escenario de emergencia. Así que, por ejemplo, aquí donde estoy, en Florida, he visto que se utilizan los mismos trucos cuando hay un huracán que estamos viendo ahora durante la COVID-19.

 

Verás, la cosa es que nuestras emociones nunca cambian. Los estafadores siempre pueden usar los mismos ganchos emocionales para atraernos, ya sabes, sorpresa, euforia, ira, disgusto, todas estas son emociones que puedes sentir cuando te encuentras con información engañosa que podría ser parte de una estafa. El punto es que, a menos de que te protejas, estas estafas funcionan.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Alex. Bueno, explícanos algunas de las estafas que estás viendo últimamente, y mencionaste el gancho emocional. ¿Qué es ese gancho y qué técnica lo distingue, para que la gente sepa que están siendo estafados?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, hay muchas por ahí, pero primero, ya sabes, la más grande que he visto es esta falsa encuesta sobre las vacunas. Ahora, es cuando recibes un correo electrónico, mensaje de texto o llamada telefónica de alguien que puede sonar oficial, pidiéndote que llenes una encuesta sobre la vacunación, y, ya sabes, si lo haces, obtienes un nuevo y lujoso iPad pro o algún otro premio, y todo lo que tienes que hacer es pagar los gastos de envío.

 

Bueno, el gancho emocional es la sorpresa y euforia que podrías tener por conseguir un iPad gratis, ¿cierto? Y la pista de que esto probablemente es una estafa es que están pidiendo dinero por adelantado por algo que se supone que vas a recibir. Solo quieren que confíes en ellos, lo que desafortunadamente, estos días son malas noticias.

 

A continuación, hay algunas estafas que están circulando sobre el alivio de deuda de COVID-19, así como becas gubernamentales que se supone que compensan la pérdida de ingresos u otros efectos de la COVID-19, y ambas parecen venir de fuentes gubernamentales, como el Departamento del Tesoro, pero son estafas. El gancho emocional aquí es el alivio que puedes sentir sabiendo que puedes rebajar una deuda, pero, como siempre, se te pedirá que pagues.

 

Te pedirán que pagues una cuota de procesamiento, y ya sabes, esta es otra pista, muchas veces te pedirán que pagues en tarjetas de regalo. Esa es una gran señal de alerta, ya sabes, las tarjetas de regalo son una forma para que los estafadores operen sin ser descubiertos. Lo nuevo sobre todas estas es que podrías verlas en redes sociales, en Facebook, y podría parecer que tus amigos están compartiendo enlaces a estas estafas, pero en realidad no son tus amigos. Son perfiles falsos. Hay un nuevo y peligroso mundo de información engañosa en la red.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, gracias por toda esa información, Alex. Amy, déjame dirigirme a ti. ¿Cómo puede alguien mantenerse al día con las estafas que evolucionan tan rápidamente, y cómo puede obtener ayuda?

 

Amy Nofziger: Sí, tienes toda la razón, Bill, quiero decir, esos estafadores siguen los titulares al igual que tú y yo, y cada día inventan nuevas formas para robar el dinero que tanto nos cuesta ganar. Así que, una de las mejores formas es, como dijiste, estar actualizado, y la Red de vigilancia contra el fraude de AARP es un recurso fantástico, y no necesitan ser socios.

 

En la Red de vigilancia contra el fraude creemos que el conocimiento les da poder sobre estas estafas. Así que, ciertamente, pueden consultar nuestra página web para obtener la información más reciente sobre las estafas y los fraudes, y lo grandioso sobre la Red de vigilancia contra el fraude es que tenemos una Línea de ayuda gratuita.

 

Esto es lo que hago a diario, hablo con víctimas y reporteros todos los días sobre estas estafas, así que cuando una estafa llega a nuestra línea de ayuda y es nueva y necesitamos advertirle a la gente sobre ella, podemos tomar esa información rápidamente y convertirla y entregársela. Así que tenemos parte de la información más reciente, por eso por favor llámennos a la línea de ayuda, es gratuita, es 877-908-3360, o visiten nuestra página web en aarp.org/fraude.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, bueno, es grandioso, Amy, saber que hay ayuda disponible. ¿Sabes? Alex acaba de mencionar algunas estafas que él ha visto, ¿hay otras de las que deberíamos estar atentos?

 

Amy Nofziger: Quiero decir, de nuevo, los estafadores inventan nuevas todos los días, pero, en resumen, quieren dos cosas de ti. Quieren tu información personal, como tu número de Seguro Social, número de Medicare, número de cuenta bancaria, o quieren dinero. Así que, no importa cuál sea la estafa, si hay una de esas dos cosas involucradas, es una gran señal de alerta.

 

Pero les diré esto, una de las más grandes que tuvimos el año pasado son las estafas de los impostores gubernamentales. Bien, te llamarán y fingirán ser del IRS o de la Administración del Seguro Social diciendo que hay un problema con tu cuenta, o que no pagaste tus impuestos. Mencionarán la COVID-19 de alguna manera, diciendo, "Bueno, necesitamos que pague de inmediato, debido a las restricciones por la COVID-19, no podemos dejar que venga a la oficina".

 

Y de nuevo, justo como Alex dijo, van a solicitar el pago en estas formas no tradicionales. Las tarjetas de regalo de prepago son un método preferido, porque son prácticamente imposibles de rastrear y están muy accesibles a todo el mundo. Quiero decir, entras en una farmacia o supermercado y ves esos enormes carruseles de esas tarjetas de regalo. Así que si alguien llama pidiendo una tarjeta de regalo o diciendo que estás en problemas con el Gobierno, cuelga el teléfono, no son ellos.

 

Bill Walsh: Excelente consejo, Amy, muchas gracias. Quiero decir, suena a que los estafadores nunca descansan. Alex y Amy, me pregunto, ¿cuál es su mejor consejo para nuestros oyentes sobre cómo detectar y evitar las estafas de información engañosa?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Entonces, voy a decir, en primer lugar, usen su instinto. Si tienen un sentimiento emocional cuando ven una publicación en línea, o reciben una llamada o mensaje, esa es una gran señal de alerta. Deténganse antes de participar o compartir. Puede que tenga una diapositiva por aquí, pero busquen siempre fuentes oficiales del Gobierno.

 

Para las estafas, pueden, ya saben, confiar y buscar en la Comisión Federal de Comercio o la Oficina de Protección Financiera del Consumidor, y para cualquier cosa relacionada con la salud y la COVID-19, querrán quedarse con los CDC y la FDA. Y también, ya saben, todo lo que hablamos hoy, toda esta investigación, pueden usar una técnica que nosotros en MediaWise llamamos "Lectura lateral", y esto es cuando abren una nueva pestaña, buscan más información, abren otra nueva pestaña, buscan incluso más información, y simplemente profundizan más y más para averiguar más sobre la posible estafa de la que podrían ser víctimas.

 

Bill Walsh: Amy, ¿algún consejo?

 

Amy Nofziger: Sí, estoy muy contenta que Alex haya mencionado el instinto, porque a veces digo eso y la gente me mira como, "Estás loca", pero es cierto. Escuchen a su instinto. He hablado con tantas víctimas en mis 19 años en AARP, y dicen, "Debería haber escuchado a mi instinto", así que esa es una gran señal de alerta. Si su instinto les dice que algo está mal, escúchenlo.

 

También, si alguien está ofreciendo una garantía, ya sea en una inversión, o escuchamos mucho de estas curas de COVID-19, "Esto garantiza que no lo contraigas", es una gran señal de alerta. Nadie puede garantizar algo así. Y finalmente, una gran señal de alerta es cuando solicitan una forma de pago no tradicional.

 

Mencionamos las tarjetas de regalo de prepago anteriormente, pero también estamos escuchando de muchas solicitudes de criptomonedas, ¿bien? Y mucha gente no sabe lo fácil que es acceder a ellas. Hay máquinas en su supermercado local que parecen cajeros automáticos, pero que en realidad, son lugares para comprar criptomonedas, y de nuevo, esa es una forma de dinero imposible de rastrear y los estafadores quieren eso.

 

Y luego, finalmente, están estas cosas llamadas aplicaciones “peer-to-peer”, nombres comunes son CashApp, Venmo y Zelle. Si alguien que no conoces quiere que pagues con ese método, es una estafa. Es una estafa. Eso solo es para amigos y familiares.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Alex y Amy, muchas gracias. Excelentes consejos, y es grandioso saber que hay algunas herramientas y recursos para ayudar. Ahora es momento de responder a más de sus preguntas con nuestros invitados Joan Lunden, la Dra. Roy y Alex Mahadevan. Como recordatorio, por favor, presionen asterisco-tres en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP, o si están mirando en Facebook o YouTube, dejen su pregunta en la sección de comentarios. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra primera llamada es Nancy de Carolina del Sur.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Nancy, bienvenida al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Nancy: Sí, lo siento, estaba escuchando. Mi pregunta es que he escuchado, de hecho, de algunas personas en Nueva York, que esta vacuna tiene cosas que se supone van a matar a la gente a finales de este año o al año siguiente, y no sé más aparte de que están mencionando que los elementos que se están poniendo en la vacuna son lo que va a provocar la muerte de las personas. Eso es algo grande que acaba de surgir que escuché en las últimas dos semanas.

 

Bill Walsh: Permítame que algunos de nuestros expertos respondan a eso, sé que Joan, Joan, hablaste sobre esto un poco antes. ¿Quieres responder a eso un poco más a fondo?

 

Joan Lunden: Puede ir a la página web de la FDA, quiero decir, la responsabilidad recae allí, en cuanto a lo que hay en cualquier medicamento particular, ve a la página, y ve a la vacuna de Pfizer o a la de Moderna, cualquier vacuna, y lista todos los ingredientes justo ahí.

 

Y, quiero decir, tal vez Alex quiera responder entonces cómo se hace la verificación de datos, pero muchas de estas cosas que se están publicando, no sé… la parte masculina de la placenta, es decir, están todas estas cosas descabelladas. Esos no están en los ingredientes. Quiero decir, todo lo que tienes que hacer es ir y ver, y no están en los ingredientes.

 

Entonces, ya sabes, este es el tipo... te hacen dudar. Ese es el problema, les gusta poner esa pequeña duda en tu mente para que no vayas a vacunarte, y no es lo mejor para ti, y ciertamente no es lo mejor para el público, que no alcancemos la inmunidad de grupo. No queremos que esto se convierta en una endemia, donde vivamos con ello para siempre. Todos, mundialmente, tenemos que vacunarnos.

 

Bill Walsh: Alex, me gustaría que opinaras sobre esto. Ya sabes, las personas están ocupadas. No tienen el día entero, no es su trabajo como lo es para ti, el rastrear estas cosas. Dame algunas fuentes que las personas pueden usar si escuchan algunas de estas afirmaciones.

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, puedo decirte que los verificadores de datos han estado trabajando tiempo extra desde hace más de un año, personalmente, y mis amigos y colegas. Así que muchas, yo diría, casi cualquier afirmación que escuchen de amigos o familiares, como la de los ingredientes que podrían matarte, ha sido verificada. Así que la forma más rápida de averiguarlo es hacer lo que yo llamo una lectura lateral, que es ver la publicación que están viendo y abrir una nueva pestaña, y luego comenzar a usar palabras clave para averiguar más sobre esa fuente o publicación.

 

Y lo más probable es que se encuentren con una verificación de los datos, ya sea de PolitiFact o el verificador de datos del Washington Post, Reuters tiene una excelente división de verificación de datos, básicamente todos los medios de comunicación importantes realizan una importante verificación de datos ahora. Así que, esa es una forma rápida, ya saben, toma un par de segundos buscarlo, y quizás un par de minutos leer el artículo, así que eso es lo que yo sugeriría.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias, Alex. Jean, ¿quién es nuestra siguiente llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra siguiente llamada es Kurt de Pensilvania.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Kurt, bienvenido al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Kurt: Tengo una pregunta sobre tomar medicamentos para el dolor y vacunarme.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Cuál es tu pregunta? ¿Kurt?

 

Kurt: Escuché que si has estado tomando ciertos medicamentos para el dolor como oxicodona o diazepam, podría haber algún tipo de... podría pasar algo.

 

Bill Walsh: Dra. Roy, ¿quiere opinar sobre esto? Quiero decir, se ha hablado mucho de lo que se debería y no se debería tomar después de la vacuna si tienes efectos secundarios. Dra. Roy, ¿está silenciada?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Lo siento mucho. Kurt, gracias por hacer esa pregunta. ¿Sabes? En realidad, hay una lista muy corta de quienes no pueden vacunarse. De verdad, personas que tienen antecedentes de anafilaxia o una reacción alérgica grave a otras vacunas u otros medicamentos, bueno, en realidad, principalmente otras vacunas, incluyendo las que tenían, por ejemplo, Pfizer o Moderna.

 

En cuanto a medicamentos, realmente no se me ocurre ningún medicamento que pueda tener conflicto o reaccionar con cualquiera de estas vacunas. Dicho eso, si eres alguien con inmunodepresión y estás tomando ciertas quimioterapias u otros medicamentos que pudieran suprimir tu sistema inmunitario, por supuesto, habla con tu doctor antes de vacunarte, pero las personas que están inmunocomprometidas o inmunodeprimidas también deberían vacunarse.

 

Pero si te preocupa alguno de tus medicamentos o condiciones preexistentes, siempre habla con tu doctor, tu profesional de la salud, primero. Pero de verdad, ningún medicamento debería ser una contraindicación para recibir cualquiera de estas vacunas.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Dra. Roy, muchas gracias. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos ahora en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra siguiente llamada es Wanda de Ohio.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Wanda, bienvenida al programa. ¿Cuál es tu pregunta?

 

Wanda: Mi pregunta es, tenía el cabello castaño cuando era niña, y luego se me puso blanco. Luego, el doctor me dijo que me pusiera la vacuna, que me vacunara. Lo hice y ahora mi cabello en la parte de atrás está creciendo castaño, así que espero que se vuelva castaño por completo, y supongo, pero si la vacuna me hizo eso, me gustaría saber. Si lo hace y todo mi cabello se vuelve castaño, estaré encantada, pero...

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, ¿ha tenido algún otro efecto secundario de la vacuna?

 

Wanda: No, no, ninguno.

 

Bill Walsh: Solo un cambio en el color del cabello. Bueno, puede que sea una de las bendecidas. Déjeme pedirle a la Dra. Roy que responda esa pregunta.

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Bueno, en primer lugar, ¡cielos, Wanda! Tengo cientos de amigas que matarían por tener ese tipo de efecto secundario. Ha habido varios efectos secundarios que han sido asociados con las vacunas, un cambio en el color del cabello no es uno con el que esté familiarizada, pero francamente, algunos de los más comunes, y algunos que experimenté después de vacunarme, es fatiga, dolor de cabeza, escalofríos, dolor en el cuerpo, náuseas, esos son realmente los más comunes. Es raro que alguien padezca todos esos efectos secundarios, y hay algunas personas que no padecen efectos secundarios. Pero un cambio en el color del cabello no es uno con el que esté familiarizada, Wanda.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, lo agregaremos a la lista. Jean, ¿quién es el siguiente en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra siguiente llamada es Monita de Indiana.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Monita, bienvenida al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Monita: Mi pregunta es que he escuchado dos historias diferentes. Escuché que solo puedes contraer COVID-19 tocando cosas que otras personas han tocado, y otros dicen que solo puedes contraerlo por el aire. ¿Cuál es la verdad?

 

Bill Walsh: Dra. Roy, creo que en realidad ha habido algunas pautas sobre la permanencia de COVID-19 en las superficies, ¿puede aclarar esta cuestión?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Sí, primero, Monita, gracias por hacer esa pregunta. Ahora tenemos más de un año de datos, que puede no parecer mucho, pero es más de lo que teníamos hace un año. Así que, en realidad, los estudios han demostrado que la transmisión por las superficies realmente no es un modo de transmisión tan común o alto, Monita.

 

Lo que hay que recordar es que este coronavirus, la forma en que se transmite es a través de gotitas respiratorias que están en la nariz o faringe nasal, y en la boca. Así que, es por eso que usar esa mascarilla, cubrir la nariz y la boca, fue tan vital, y aún es vital. Este virus se trasmite de persona a persona a través de gotitas respiratorias, pero la vacuna puede disminuir esa transmisión de la boca y la nariz a otras personas. Así que, es por eso que la vacuna, vacunarse es tan importante. Pero también, la higiene de las manos y el distanciamiento, junto con la mascarilla y las vacunas, también son otras medidas altamente efectivas.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Dra. Roy, muchas gracias por eso. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos ahora en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: La siguiente llamada es James de Michigan.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, James, bienvenido al programa. Adelante con tu pregunta.

 

James: Sí, creo que la mayoría de la gente, al menos que yo conozca, confiará, la cuestión de la confianza, confiará en su médico de cabecera. Pero el médico de cabecera está abrumado con 300 pacientes, así que no puedes acudir a tu médico de cabecera. ¿Hay alguna manera de que los médicos de cabecera puedan ser contactados y que puedan ayudar con el problema de la confianza?

 

Bill Walsh: Es un gran punto y creo que a lo largo de la pandemia, la confianza en los médicos probablemente solo ha aumentado. Dra. Roy, ¿me pregunto si puede responder la pregunta directamente, y tal vez Joan opinar al respecto sobre otras fuentes en las que podamos confiar?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: Ya sabes, la persona que llama, James, gracias. Entiendo tu frustración, mi amigo. Esto es algo que muchos, muchos pacientes y muchas personas del público experimentan, que es una inhabilidad de contactar a sus médicos a tiempo. Las clínicas son muy conscientes de esto, como dije antes, el agotamiento entre los trabajadores de la salud era una epidemia antes de la pandemia de COVID-19.

 

Así que, mira, si no puedes contactar a tu médico de cabecera, está bien, hay muchas otras fuentes de información confiable. Ya hemos hablado de varias solamente en este programa. AARP es un gran ejemplo, un excelente recurso. Los CDC, la Mayo Clinic, Master General Hospital, NYU, el hospital o centro académico en tu área local, el departamento de salud pública en tu área. Pero con solo ir a... Con solo buscar "CDC" y cualquiera que sea tu pregunta, tu pregunta será respondida de una manera confiable y precisa, James.

 

Bill Walsh: Joan, ¿me pregunto si podrías opinar sobre algunas fuentes de confianza en este momento crítico?

 

Joan Lunden: Bueno, curiosamente, hay un par de cosas que pensé que era importante mencionar, número uno, la telemedicina es algo... es gracioso, porque hace un año hice un pódcast para el Washington Post y Cleveland Clinic, y uno de nuestros programas se trató sobre el surgimiento de la telemedicina, que esperaban tal vez que se extendiera en un período de cinco a diez años.

 

Y por supuesto, la pandemia llegó y se extendió de la noche a la mañana. Así que, eso es realmente... Y ya sabes, la mayoría de los doctores se están haciendo disponibles a través de la telemedicina, pero la gran preocupación es que, si tienes una desconexión con tu doctor, y muchas personas han tenido una desconexión de sus chequeos anuales. Las mujeres no se hicieron mamografías, las mujeres no se las han hecho por, ya sabes, tres o cuatro meses, las clínicas estaban cerradas. Y luego abrieron, pero ha habido un gran retraso de toda la gente que no pudo ir durante esos cuatro meses.

 

Y los médicos con los que he hablado, ya sean oncólogos o médicos de atención primaria, están muy preocupados de que mucha gente habrá perdido, durante este período de 14 meses en que no han podido ir al doctor, o que se han mostrado reacios a ir al consultorio de un doctor, y que eventualmente se han desconectado de su rutina de salud, que vamos a perder muchos diagnósticos, y vamos a perder diagnósticos tempranos, que, para muchas, muchas, enfermedades crónicas diferentes, pueden marcar la diferencia en el pronóstico de una persona.

 

Así que, todos los que están escuchando, si no se hicieron la colonoscopía, si no se hicieron la mamografía, o cualquiera de estas, si no han ido a su chequeo anual, y se hacen un CBC mientras hacen eso, llamen al doctor y pidan una cita. Si no pueden conseguirla hasta dentro de algunos meses, solamente acéptenla. Es solo que, ya saben, antes de que se den cuenta, el momento llegará.

 

Y todos tenemos que ser nuestro propio defensor, todos tenemos que ser los directores a cargo de nuestra propia atención médica, porque, ya saben, no es como en los viejos tiempos donde había un doctor que era un doctor de cabecera y lo sabía todo sobre sus riesgos de salud. Todos vemos a una multitud de doctores. No hablan entre sí, así que ustedes tienen que ser el guardián. Y si hay algo que podemos tratar de inculcar a todos aquí, es no dejar que esta pandemia les impida hacerse todos los chequeos que necesiten.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, eso suena como una manera estupenda para concluir, Joan. Me pregunto si Alex y la Dra. Roy tienen alguna otra recomendación para nuestros oyentes y espectadores, ¿Dra. Roy?

 

Dra. Lipi Roy: En primer lugar, estoy muy contenta de que AARP haya organizado este evento. La salud, esta pandemia realmente ha reforzado la idea de que, sin tu salud, no tienes nada, ¿cierto? Esta pandemia nos ha demostrado que este virus dominó el mundo, detuvo al mundo en un instante.

 

Y como recordatorio, ya saben, Estados Unidos suele invertir dinero en cosas como, digamos, el ejército, en el sector financiero, pero no invierte tanto en las principales causas de muerte, que son las enfermedades cardíacas, diabetes, cáncer, enfermedades pulmonares y neumonía, Alzheimer, todas se encuentran entre las diez principales. Tenemos que invertir en salud pública y en la salud de sus agencias de salud locales, estatales y federales, y simplemente tenemos que cuidarnos los unos a los otros, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias por eso. Alex, ¿algún pensamiento final o recomendaciones?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, quiero agradecerte por dejarme estar aquí y hablar sobre un tema realmente importante, y ya sabes, la información engañosa en torno a la pandemia de COVID-19 es algo que me interesa mucho. Como alguien que ha estado siguiendo esto durante el último, más de un año, solamente diré que a nadie le gusta ser engañado en línea, ya sea para compartir una cura milagrosa o información errónea sobre las vacunas, o estafas.

 

Así que, intenten ser su propio verificador de datos. Confíen en su instinto cuando vean algo en línea. Pero en general, esto es lo que intento decirle a la gente todo el tiempo, sé amable contigo mismo y sé amable con los demás. Hay muchas cosas terribles en línea. La información engañosa es parte de ello, pero solo intenten ser amables los unos con los otros.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias, Alex. Y Joan, ¿creo que quieres hablar un poco sobre una oportunidad de MediaWise para aquellos que han sintonizado esta noche?

 

Joan Lunden: Claro que sí. MediaWise está ofreciendo un curso en línea gratuito de verificación de datos, realmente les recomiendo hacer esto, para todos los socios de AARP. Así que, voy a decirles cómo ir a él. Pueden registrarse en https://POY.NU/AARP, y "AARP" tiene que estar en letras grandes. Entonces, de nuevo, https://POY.NU/AARP, todo en mayúscula.

 

Les recomiendo encarecidamente que hagan esto. Van a aprender mucho, y van a estar capacitados en cuanto a la forma de asimilar toda su información en línea, dondequiera que obtengan su información.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Joan. Bueno, obtuvimos excelente información de nuestros expertos aquí esta noche, gracias a todos. Esta ha sido una discusión realmente informativa y le agradezco a todos nuestros expertos por responder a nuestras preguntas. Y también quiero agradecerles a ustedes, nuestros socios de AARP, voluntarios, oyentes y espectadores, por participar en esta discusión.

 

AARP, una organización sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores en EE.UU. por más de 60 años. Ante esta crisis, estamos proporcionando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan a protegerse del virus y prevenir su propagación a otros, mientras se cuidan a sí mismos.

 

Todos los recursos mencionados aquí, incluyendo una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas de esta tarde, pueden encontrarse en aarp.org/coronavirus, a partir del 21 de mayo, mañana. De nuevo, la dirección es aarp.org/coronavirus. Vayan allí si su pregunta no fue respondida y encontrarán las últimas actualizaciones, así como información creada específicamente para adultos mayores y cuidadores familiares.

 

Esperamos que aprendan algo que pueda mantenerlos a ustedes y a sus seres queridos sanos, y que les ayude a identificar la realidad frente a los rumores, cuando se trata de la vacuna contra el coronavirus. Por favor sintonicen el 3 de junio a la 1:00 PM hora del este para escuchar otro evento en vivo en el que responderemos sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus. Gracias y que tengan una buena tarde. Esto concluye nuestro evento.

 

 

Listen to a replay of the live Q&A event above.

COVID-19 misinformation and fraud can fuel fear and skepticism. This live Q&A event exposed the latest vaccine scams, helping you distinguish fact from fiction.

The Experts:

  • Joan Lunden
    Journalist,
    Best-Selling Author and TV Host

  • Lipi Roy, M.D.
    Medical Director,
    COVID Isolation and Quarantine Sites,
    Housing Works, New York City,
    Forbes Contributor,
    Former MSNBC and NBC News Medical Contributor
  • Alex Mahadevan
    Senior Multimedia Reporter,
    MediaWise

  • Amy Nofziger
    Director, AARP Fraud Helpline  

Coronavirus Vaccines: Transitioning Social and Family Norms

Bill Walsh: Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you’d like to hear this telephone town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

            AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global, coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Across the country the rate of vaccination is improving, prompting the CDC to relax the mask-wearing mandates and recommend vaccination for everyone ages 12 and older. With over 84 percent of adults 65 and older having received at least one dose, many people now have questions about if and how to transition to family and community activities, especially now that there are new variants of COVID-19 in circulation. Should we go back to old norms? And if not, what are the new ones? Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

            If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town hall before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you’d like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including health experts from Infection Prevention at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City, Loyola University of New Orleans and the HomeCare Association of Louisiana, and Marion County Public Health Department in Indiana. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today.

            This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

            Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Lindsay Gottlieb, M.D., is the director of Infection Prevention at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Gottlieb.

Lindsey Gottlieb: Thanks so much for having me and letting me participate in this important discussion.

Bill Walsh: All right, we’re delighted to have you. Also joining us is Warren P. Hebert, Jr., doctor of nursing practice and adjunct professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, adjunct affiliate with Rutgers Institute of Health and Healthcare Policy and Aging Research, and CEO of the HomeCare Association of Louisiana. Dr. Hebert, you wear many hats. Welcome back to the program.

Warren Hebert: Thank you very much, Bill. I appreciate the opportunity.

Bill Walsh: All right. And finally, Virginia Caine, M.D., is the director and chief medical officer of the Marion County, Indiana, Public Health Department. She is also associate professor of medicine at Indiana University’s School of Medicine and the Division of Infectious Diseases. Welcome, Dr. Caine.

Virginia Caine: Thank you.

Bill Walsh: All right, delighted to have you. Let’s go ahead and get started with our discussion. … Dr. Gottlieb, let’s start with you. CDC guidance last week says that fully vaccinated people can now resume all activities and relax mask wearing for almost all situations. What have we learned about vaccines to take this step? And where might you still take precautions?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sure. I think it’s first helpful just to remind everybody what it means to be fully vaccinated. The CDC defines full vaccination as being at least two weeks after your last dose of the vaccine that you elect to get. So for Johnson & Johnson, that would be two weeks after the first dose; for Moderna and Pfizer, two weeks after the second dose. And we have learned a lot at this point. Importantly, all three of these vaccines significantly reduce the risk of the vaccinated individual of getting infected with COVID-19, if they’re exposed to the virus and even more importantly, really, really significantly reduce the risk of that individual being hospitalized or dying if they do, in a rare case, get infected after a vaccine. In fact, the rates are almost zero of hospitalization and death in a fully vaccinated individual. And we have data from the studies that were performed prior to the authorization to prove those points, but also from real-world observations at this point of the hundreds of millions of individuals who have gotten the vaccine and gone on to do well. We also have data to show similar efficacy against some of the newer variants that are circulating. In addition, we’ve seen that there’s a reduced risk of transmission, meaning that in the rare case where somebody who’s vaccinated does get infected, there’s a lower likelihood that that person will go on and infect somebody else with the virus.

            But you asked me, where might you still take precaution? So first I think it’s important to point out that there are some areas that are still required to wear, for vaccinated individuals to wear masks as per the CDC. And those most significantly are any sorts of public transportation, including the stations. So subways, airplanes and airports still require universal masking as per the CDC, as well as health care settings. So you should expect to wear a mask when you walk into your doctor’s office or to visit somebody in the hospital. And there’s some other places as well, including shelters. Beyond that, I think a lot of it is looking at your own personal risk and particularly for individuals who are immunocompromised, understanding that we don’t have as much data yet to know whether these vaccines are as effective in people who do not have a normal immune system. So for people on very high dose steroids, chemotherapy or medications for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, they may want to act more like somebody who’s unvaccinated, even if they’ve gotten their vaccine doses and continue to mask.

            Lastly, you just need to think about your own personal tolerance for risk. So I know for myself being in this field, my plan for the short term at least is if I’m in a crowded indoor setting where I don’t know the vaccine status of those people around me, I’ll probably still throw on a mask, or if I’m going to be in close, extended contact indoors with somebody where I don’t know that they were vaccinated, I may choose to wear a mask as well. And that has to be a personal decision based on your level of risk tolerance.

Bill Walsh: Yeah, it’s very interesting. We’re in kind of tricky times now with the etiquette and the norm. We’re going to get more into that later in the program. You started off, Dr. Gottlieb, by making a very interesting point, which was that we now have millions of examples of people having taken the vaccine and seeing side effects or no side effects. What would you say to people who are still hesitant about the vaccine because they might say, oh, it was rushed to market, or there wasn’t enough study.

Lindsey Gottlieb: Yeah, that’s a very common question and concern that we hear about, and I understand where people are coming from because there has been so much news coverage about how this went so quickly, but I like to remind people that there are reasons that this went so quickly that have nothing to do with skipping any sort of steps about safety. For one, a lot of times these studies just take longer because there’s not enough funding. And in this case, everybody in the world was focused on this one virus and funding that was supposed to go to another place, got transitioned into COVID research. So the money was there, and the money was there to even manufacturer the vaccines with a plan to throw them out if they didn’t work. So there was a lot of money that helped. In addition, there’s been 10 to 20 years of research leading up to this looking at other coronaviruses, things like SARS and MERS, and also looking at these mRNA technologies for other infections and even for cancer treatment that allowed us to get to this point. So the study still went through the same phase one, two, three parts of the normal research trials that occurred. And we, at this point, have observed a lot of people for the amount of time during which we would normally expect a side effect to occur from a vaccine, which is usually within the first four to six weeks after vaccination. At this point, we have almost a year of data from the early individuals in the trials. So we do have a lot of safety data at this point.

Bill Walsh: All right, OK. Thank you for that, Dr. Gottlieb. Let’s turn to you, Dr. Caine. Local communities have been the hub for an effective vaccine rollout. What did communities like yours learn from the COVID vaccine rollout, and how do you adapt to future public health crises?

Virginia Caine: I think what this epidemic has highlighted is that we had glaring deficiencies in terms of our health care systems related to access. And we’ve also seen a growing diversity in the different populations, different cultures and even the different languages needed to provide education, and how to promote different locations where vaccines are noted. For example, in Indianapolis, we were surprised at the number of people, not only from just a health literacy standpoint, but just literacy alone who don’t have the ability to read or write. Whereas we have put up a lot of our materials at third and fourth grade reading levels, it wasn’t effective. And so learning that we have to have different modes of outreach to our community, and also, for example, being able to have a call system, which I think AARP has helped to assist, at least in the state of Indiana, for people because of poverty issues are just not techie [and] don’t have access to internet and wouldn’t know how to do registration, having the ability to have a call number and have someone do the registration for them.

Transportation … you know, a lot of people lost their jobs, especially in the hospitality area. So when you lose your job what happens sometimes, you lose your health insurance as well once you’ve lost your job. And we saw increasing homeless individuals out there that we needed to provide services for. So how do we set up a system when maybe a fifth of your population, they don’t have a primary care provider. They don’t have the ability to go to emergency rooms because they’re so overwhelmed, and our critical beds were full, how do you communicate and get the message out to them but also guaranteeing that because of lack of access, we’re not seeing increasing hospitalizations and increasing deaths, especially as it relates to our different racial and ethnic populations. Our African Americans, our Latinx population and our Native Americans are having about almost four times the hospitalizations compared to their white counterparts and 2.8 times the death rates compared to our counterparts. And so really requiring critical, effective vaccinations, because if you don’t have access and you have issues, maybe a vaccine hesitancy, we may find large pockets of our residents were not vaccinated that may be vulnerable to super-spread outbreaks related to these new virulent, variant strengths.

Bill Walsh: Right.

Virginia Caine:  So the lesson learned, right quick, we need trusted ambassadors in the very populations that we need to reach in order to partner.

Bill Walsh: Yep, good point. I think this episode is going to be studied by public health officials for many years, a lot of lessons to learn here. Thank you for that, Dr. Caine. You know, while many people are ready to resume their normal activities, the truth is a lot of people are reluctant. Dr. Hebert, how significant is this anxiousness and how do you go about supporting loved ones who feel stuck or reluctant to kind of reenter life as they knew it?

Warren Hebert: Bill, thanks for the question. And I’ll add that I’m a grandfather to 12 grandchildren. When we talk about normal activities, for us one of the most difficult things was spending time away from our grandchildren and not having the opportunity to engage them as often as we do. Nine of our 12 grandkids live within 10 minutes, and the other three are only 90 minutes away. The question about resuming normal activities really depends on what your normal is. For some people, they are more alone. They do have fewer people in their circle, and they generally are relatively close to home. So for that sort of normal, it’s going to be different from someone whose normal is in a large urban area, who is traveling on public transportation, or someone like me who decided to take the risk last week to get on a plane for the first time in 14 months. I traveled to be with my friends of mine in California. And the travel experience was interesting. I know that there’s a higher risk because I’m going to be engaging people, not only from other parts of the country, but from other parts of the world. I was surprised that there were no requests for me to show my vaccine card, but again, the point of being normal and having a degree of anxiety about that is a routine thing.

            As we look back to normal, ask yourself what that normal is for you. As Dr. Gottlieb talked out a little bit earlier, many people in the population are immunosuppressed, meaning that they’ve got a higher likelihood of catching the coronavirus and other diseases. So from that perspective, I really feel like going back to normal activities does offer a degree of anxiety, and I think that that’s a good thing because it is going to cause us to be more prudent in the way that we go about our activities. And to be honest with you, not go back to the normal, which prior to COVID was not washing our hands near enough, being in people’s faces and not worrying if somebody was coughing and sneezing on us, you know, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to that. Thank you, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right, thanks Dr. Hebert for that. … I want to bring in Nancy LeaMond. Nancy is the executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer here at AARP. Welcome, Nancy.

Nancy LeaMond: Thanks, Bill. Thanks for having me.

Bill Walsh: All right. There’s been a lot of action on COVID-19 on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures over the past few months. What’s the latest?

Nancy LeaMond: Well, there has indeed. It’s been a very busy stretch with a lot of action after months of AARP advocacy, urging Congress to act, to respond to the pandemic. As many of our listeners know, there were some positive actions in March when President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which included several AARP priorities. The legislation addressed immediate health needs from the pandemic — including more support for COVID vaccine efforts, an expansion of subsidies that will make coverage under the Affordable Care Act much more affordable, improved infection control in nursing homes, and more. It also addressed many economic and financial needs stemming from the pandemic, including payments to millions of older adults and expanding paid leave tax credits, and the Child Tax Credit. AARP state offices across the country are continuing this advocacy by working with governors and state legislatures to allocate funding provided to states in ways that continue to address the needs of those over 50.

            For example, AARP West Virginia recently advocated for the governor to make older homebound residents a priority, and AARP Massachusetts successfully advocated the passage of a bill that provides emergency paid sick leave for those who get COVID-19, for caregivers of those who get COVID 19, and simply for getting a vaccine. So looking forward, Congress will soon begin working on an infrastructure plan, and AARP will continue to fight for the financial and health security of older adults by pushing for continued access to vaccines, taking action to lower the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs that continue to cripple many family budgets, and improving access to high-speed internet, safe transportation, and better housing options across the country. It’s a bit busy agenda for us.

Bill Walsh: It sure is. Thanks for walking us through that update, Nancy. As the vaccine distribution process continues, where is AARP focusing its efforts?

Nancy LeaMond: Since the start of this pandemic, AARP has been fighting for our constituency, calling for big investments in research around treatments and vaccines for this virus. And I’m glad to say those efforts are paying off. Once the vaccines were available, we knew this was the issue that mattered most to people over 50. And that’s why we worked with the Trump administration and the Biden administration, and in every single state to make older people a priority. That’s also why we publish online guides for every state explaining how to get the vaccine where you live. And you can find those at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. Because of our work governments prioritize long-term care facilities and older Americans. Cases in nursing homes have thankfully dropped drastically, although there are still some serious concerns. And more than 70 percent of people 65 and older are now fully vaccinated.

            There’s, of course, still a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get it, and people who may still have questions need to have them answered. AARP state offices remain hard at work reaching out to older adults across the country. For example, AARP Alabama is working with the Alabama United Way’s 211 system to help residents register for a COVID-19 vaccine, and AARP Maryland, my home state, launched an effort with messages in English and Spanish on buses and in bus shelters aimed at audiences that lack internet access. Now as the rollout continues, we’re going to keep the pressure up on elected leaders, and we’ll be focused on ensuring that older adults, particularly older adults of color and those who are homebound, have access to the vaccine. To stay up-to-date with all of our efforts, please visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus. Thanks so much for letting me join you today, Bill.

Bill Walsh: All right. Thanks, Nancy, for that great update. We really appreciate it. …

            We are going to get to all of [your] questions shortly, but before we do, I wanted to address an important issue. We know that some of you are still having challenges registering for vaccines in your state and community because many places require signups through online forums. And if you don’t have access to a computer, this can be a real challenge. AARP wants to help. We’ve established AARP Vaccine Finders Support Team to try to assist in these cases. So if you’re listening today, and you don’t have a computer, and you can’t register for a vaccine in your community because you don’t have access to technology, press 1 on your telephone keypad to be added to a list to receive a call from an AARP staff member to assist you. Again, if you’re listening today and you don’t have access to a computer or the internet and cannot register for a vaccine because of that, that please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a call to get some help. When you do, you’ll listen to a brief message and then you’ll be returned to this call.

            It’s now time to address your questions about the coronavirus and the vaccines with Dr. Lindsay Gottlieb, Dr. Warren Hebert, and Dr. Virginia Caine. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I’d like to now bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls today. Welcome, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Thanks so much, Bill. Delighted to be here.

Bill Walsh: All right, who is our first caller today?

Jean Setzfand: Our first caller is Evelyn from Tennessee.

Bill Walsh: Evelyn. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Evelyn : Thank you. I understand that a lot of states have lifted the mandate to wear a mask, and I want to know what do you think about that situation. I’m going to continue to wear mine for as long as I feel like I need to. What do you think about it? Do you think it’s too early, or do you think that this other COVID-19, the other kind that’s coming out, will that have a bad effect? I’d like to know what AARP thinks about that.

Bill Walsh: Evelyn, thanks for that question. I think it’s on a lot of people’s minds. Dr. Gottlieb, you were just talking about this issue. Do you want to talk about it with Evelyn?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Absolutely. You know, I think that was a tough decision for the CDC, and no matter when they decided to make this change, there were going to be some people who thought they were too early and some people who thought they were too late. I do think that we’re at a point where we’ve got consistently decreasing rates of COVID throughout the country, decreasing rates of hospitalizations. And it is important that people be able to resume normalcy in businesses, be able to get back to sort of normal operations, but that doesn’t mean that we should drop all of our safety precautions. As I mentioned, there are some places where we’re still required to wear masks, including in health care, on buses, subways, trains, planes … but I think for each individual, it’s understandable that we should be able to make our own decisions also about where we continue to want to wear a mask. If you feel more comfortable wearing it walking into the grocery store or you know, going to the salon, I think that that’s completely reasonable. And the hope and recommendation is that those individuals who are unvaccinated will continue to wear masks in all of those situations as well. You referenced the newer variants of COVID-19 that are circulating, and the good news is that we do have evidence at this point that our vaccines are effective against these newer variants, but, of course, if we relax ourselves too much, and if those individuals who are unvaccinated don’t continue to get masked and don’t hopefully get vaccinated, then it is possible that we’ll see those numbers go up again. So these are the recommendations for now, and hopefully we’ll continue to see an improvement, and it’ll be able to stay that way.

Bill Walsh: All right. OK, Dr. Gottlieb, thanks for that. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: We have a question coming in on Facebook, and Phil is asking, “I’ve had COVID early in January 2021, and have been left unable to walk as a result. What provision has been made to get vaccinations to those who are homebound? Are there any provisions for caregiver costs to homebound, to if you are homebound due to COVID?”

Bill Walsh: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. Dr. Hebert, do you want to tackle that?

Warren Hebert: Absolutely. Phil, thank you for asking that question. And you know, you’re certainly in all of our thoughts related to the experiences that you’re having after having had COVID. With regards to homebound, I work in home health care, and those who have difficulty getting out of the house, many of them are having injections brought to them in the home setting. But by far, the more prominent situation is that even though people qualify for home health ‘cause it’s difficult to get out, many of them can go out to their local pharmacy for injection, some are actually getting them in a grocery store, [and] many of them have their primary care providers that are administering vaccine to them. But with regards to receiving a vaccination at home, that varies in different parts of the country. So finding out through AARP what’s available to you in your part of the country would be the best way for you to go about getting that vaccine at home. Thanks, Phil.

Bill Walsh: OK, thanks for that. Dr. Caine, I don’t know if you had anything to offer Phil there as well.

Virginia Caine: I wanted to add that we have our Indiana Division of Family Social Services, and so they’ve contracted out with our senior agencies that you may have in your local communities and partnering with your local health department, our Indianapolis Emergency Management, and even … some of our community centers where we coordinate going into the homes that are of the people who are not able to be mobile. And it’s easier I think for us in Indiana, because we’ve looked on our lists for people who have been receiving services, and we really know the majority of them who are not mobile, but we’ll come into your home, give you that vaccination, and come back, and so it does vary. But I think we have to be more concerned in some of our rural areas who don’t always have the density of services like we have in large urban areas.

Bill Walsh: Thank you for that, Dr. Caine. And Phil, just so you know, it’s different in almost every state. AARP has created state-by-state guidelines. If you go to aarp.org/vaccineinfo, you can pull up the guide for your state, and there should be some helpful toll-free numbers there that you can ask questions about your situation. All right, Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Stephanie from Tennessee.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Stephanie, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Stephanie: Yes, I have a lot of allergies, and I was hesitant to get it because my doctor said he didn’t want me to, but I went ahead and got the Pfizer one, the first shot, because I wanted some protection, and I didn’t want to get COVID. So I thought that would be the least evil. But I’ve had a lot of reactions, and I’m not taking the second shot. I want to know how much protection I have from the first shot.

Bill Walsh: Dr. Gottlieb, can you address Stephanie’s question?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sure. So we do have data to say that at least in the short term, that first shot actually does give a lot of protection and can be similar to the protection from two shots, but what we don’t know are two things: one, will one shot protect us for as long as the full two-shot series would; and two, will it protect us as well against some of the newer variants that are a little bit more challenging to prevent infection from. So obviously, everybody has to speak to their own doctors when there’s complicated issues with allergies and severe side effects. But I do, in general, suggest individuals who have history of allergies to not only talk to their primary doctor, but, if possible, an allergist as well, because even for most people with a history of allergies, there is a way to get these shots and get them safely.

Bill Walsh: OK, thanks very much for that. I appreciate it.

Virginia Caine: Bill, could I answer?

Bill Walsh: Yeah, go ahead, Dr. Caine.

Virginia Caine: I would just pipe in. I think that some people say to range of efficacy from one vaccine varies anywhere from about 50 to 70 percent. But I think the other thing that … she can consider [is] that if she ever gets an infection of COVID-19, and she has a contraindication to getting that second vaccine, we have other treatments called like monoclonal antibodies. These are sort of manmade antibodies that can be given that can also extend immunity for a period of about three months or so if they become infected, and they have a milder version of the COVID-19, prevent them from developing into a more severe stage. So she should talk to her provider just to be prepared in case she should get infected.

Bill Walsh: Thanks to our experts for all of those answers. And we’re going to take some more questions shortly. But I wanted to get back to our experts. Earlier we were discussing how people vary in their thoughts and feelings about gatherings with families and friends. And Dr. Hebert, what do you do if an adult child or a family member refuses to get a vaccine and they want to come to visit?

Warren Hebert: Bill, unfortunately, that question has to be asked across the country, far too many times in the average day. I’ve had conversations like this with friends of mine who are over 65, and people who on occasion are immunosuppressed. So what many of them have done is to talk with that adult child and say … I’d love to visit with you, I’m concerned that you have not gotten a vaccination because I’m older, and because I have a higher likelihood of getting the disease. So to just put that out upfront is important. Some alternatives might be that instead of having that adult child, if they’re traveling from another city to be with you in your home, you might suggest that they get a hotel room and that when they do come over to visit, you could visit outside. That significantly decreases the risk that they might share something with you. If it’s an adult child that lives in town, again, visiting outside with them reduces the risk — or maybe finding a restaurant somewhere that has outdoor dining. These are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood, but the reality of this is that our relationships with our families are still going to be around after we get COVID under control a bit more. So you certainly don’t want to do anything that’s going to cause a long-term rift within the family. Being kind, being gentle, being generous, and trying to be understanding that while you’ve got some concerns about getting the disease from that person who’s not immunized, a lot of those folks who are choosing not to get vaccinations  have their own rationale for not receiving the shot. So I think trying to understand people where they are and love them as you would love any family member if they’re feeling a little bit different from you. I hope that helps, Bill.

Bill Walsh: Yeah, thanks for that Dr. Hebert. Dr. Caine, I wonder what your thoughts are on that. Is it a good idea to reconnect with a family member if they aren’t vaccinated?

Virginia Caine: I think it’s always a good idea to reconnect, but I’m just going to go with Dr. Hebert. It depends on how you do your communications. And … if you are an older individual, your immunity’s not quite the same as if you were younger, and because of the various strains that are out there now, we have a significant number of individuals who have no symptoms. They feel great, they have no fever, and yet they can be infected, or they can … have no symptoms at least two days if they do develop symptoms, and so I have to tell my family members that you may be fine, but you can transmit that infection to other members unknowingly based on being infected. And so, I strongly feel that you have to be very careful about allowing someone inside your household, because just talking normally will allow respiratory droplets to get in the air and may remain for a while if they’re inside your household, and especially if they’re not wearing a mask. So I love the idea about being able to communicate with them outdoors, and lower their risk significantly, or have some kind of mode where you can see a person’s face maybe on your telephone or whatever, like Skype or something like that, but I really am concerned if you have anyone in your household that may be undergoing chemotherapy, they may be an organ transplant person recently, so it also sometimes depends on who’s inside your household in terms of determining whether you want a visit from someone who’s unvaccinated.

Bill Walsh: Great points, Dr. Caine. Thanks for that. Dr. Gottlieb, let’s talk about children for a second. Now that the CDC recommends children ages 12 through 15 get vaccinated, do unvaccinated children present an increased risk at family activities where adults are fully vaccinated? And when do you expect we’ll see the green light for vaccinations for younger kids?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Great questions. And, of course, ones we’re starting to hear a lot of. There’s no question in having any unvaccinated individuals, whether that be because they’re not yet eligible for vaccine or because they’re too young or just not opting to get it, do introduce an increased risk compared to a family activity where everybody can be vaccinated. That being said, we know that children for the most part do not get as sick when they do get infected with COVID-19 as adults, thankfully. And we know that immunocompetent vaccinated adults also are much less likely to get very sick. So the risk to that group, as long as there’s nobody who has a low immune system, is still relatively low. That being said, once you start having several kids who are unvaccinated from multiple family members, the recommendation at that point would be …  you’ve got unvaccinated people, at least those unvaccinated individuals should be wearing masks. And it may get complicated to say, I’m going to ask my 7-year-old kid to wear a mask, but I, as an adult, I’m not going to. So particularly when hanging out indoors, if you’re going to have multiple unvaccinated children there from multiple families, it may be worth all masking just as not to ask the kids to do something that the adults aren’t doing. And like Dr. Caine said, also thinking about if any of the vaccinated adults are immunocompromised, then that risk of introducing an unvaccinated child may be higher, and masking becomes more important. As far as when we think kids will … as far as your last question about kids getting vaccinated, you know the studies are already underway. As you mentioned, we’ve started vaccinating ages 12 to 15 in the past couple weeks, and the expectation is that we may be able to start with ages 2 and up later in the fall or early winter. And even with younger babies, either the end of this year or early next year.

Bill Walsh: Thanks for that update, Dr. Gottlieb. Really appreciated it. It’s now time to address more of your questions with Dr. Lindsay Gottlieb, Dr. Warren Hebert and Dr. Virginia Caine. … Jean, who do we have next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Hattie from California.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Hattie. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Hattie: Thank you for taking my call. My question is, I’m 71 years old, and I have a caregiver. My caregiver refuses to get the vaccine. Now I’ve had the vaccine, the Pfizer, both shots and I did fine. I did fine. But I was hoping that you all could somehow make sure that the employer makes the employee get the vaccine if they’re coming into our home taking care of us. I don’t see why they shouldn’t … be vaccinated as well. Am I asking a question that’s outlandish?

Bill Walsh: No, I don’t think it’s outlandish at all, Hattie. I wonder if you’ve called the caregiving agency yourself?

Hattie: I can call the agency myself. I can.

Bill Walsh: Let’s ask one of our experts what they would do. … Hang on and we’ll get an answer for you. Dr. Hebert, do you want to address that?

Warren Hebert: Hattie, thank you so much. This is a really important issue for us to be discussing and you articulated it very, very well. One of the curiosities that we’re dealing with COVID and also with our immunizations, is that we don’t have near as high a number of health care workers getting immunized as we had hoped. As we look back on this, one of the things that I hope that we put some money to, is having a look at the human behavior. In your specific case, the fact that your caregiver has decided not to get it puts you in a precarious situation, particularly if you like that caregiver. But one of the things that you might want to consider is asking the company for a caregiver who has received their immunization. Essentially what that does is it lets the employer know that that’s important to you.

            In our own situation, my daughter who’s 30 has Down Syndrome, and she has caregivers coming in, and we’re insisting that the caregivers get vaccinated. We happen to be in a self-directed situation, so they don’t work for companies, they work directly for us. But I do think that you have a valid concern. I think Bill’s suggestion is good, calling and letting the employer know so that they’re aware that this is very important to you and your own well-being. I’m not an expert in this particular area. I’m sure Dr. Gottlieb or Dr. Caine can add something else, but because you’re fully vaccinated, you’re much safer than you would be with someone who has had no vaccinations. So congratulations on going out.

            And by the way, I’ll mention that of those of us over the age of 65, 85 percent of the population has gotten one shot, and 73 percent of those over 65 have been fully vaccinated. Thanks, Bill.

Bill Walsh: OK, thanks Dr. Hebert. Jean, who is next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Thomas from Washington.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Thomas, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Thomas: Thank you very much for taking my call. I’ve got bad hearing, so don’t hesitate to yell, that will be fine. My question … well, I’ll kind of do a little paraphrasing here. I’m a member of the Choctaw Tribe out of Oklahoma who has lived in Washington State for over 30 years, and I’ve got lots of friends here, but our family has had over 25 affected by this COVID thing. And we have a large family coast to coast, and seven have died. And I have a 86-year-old friend — 5-foot-2 guitar-picking, truck-driving ladies man — that swears that it’s more harmful to do, to wear the mask than not, and he based his proclamation on watching TV. So he says the Democrats, the Republicans, you know, it’s kind of like the adult child. He doesn’t have the mind. Thankfully, he has gotten two shots, and so he should be all right, but he is just a rebellious guy and even though he’s older than me.

Bill Walsh: Right, so Thomas, you’re asking about mask-wearing, and whether people should continue to wear masks even if they’ve been vaccinated. Is that right?

Thomas: Thanks so much for getting me back on track. Yes, I am. Thank you.

Bill Walsh: All right. Thanks for the call, Thomas. Dr. Caine … maybe you can take a crack at that for Thomas.

Virginia Caine: It’s a difficult issue, Thomas, with the masks. In the new guidelines that have been put out by CDC states that if you’re outdoors, where the risk is much, much lower, that as a gentleman … if he’s jogging or doing any kind of activity, and there’s not a really large gathering at all, he doesn’t have to mask, and he doesn’t have to do a social distancing. But if you are indoors, and he’s been fully vaccinated, and he can still not necessarily require a mask and not have to do social distancing indoors … except for certain exceptions. Meaning that you can never go into a hospital system or a health care setting, and even though you’ve been fully vaccinated, that these are the exceptions where you wouldn’t really need to wear a mask and do social distancing. If you’re in airports or public transportation — like Greyhound buses, local transit systems — you would still need to require a mask even if you were vaccinated — local correctional facilities, such as that.

            But his ability to just say, I watch on television, and I know that people not getting transmitted, I think he’s having a false … when we had the epidemic and you were not vaccinated, there’s a false sense, and we realized that people are transmitting the infection when you were not vaccinated and not wearing a mask to other people, even without symptoms, being able to transmit that infection. And I say that is, if you can remember back in April, when all this first started, and in April you could look at the tons of hospital systems that were so overwhelmed, so many people dying in our long-term care facilities, and even a significant number of health care workers died when they were not wearing those masks. But the critical tool is being fully vaccinated, but with those exceptions that I mentioned.

Bill Walsh: Right. OK, Dr. Caine, thank you for that. Let’s take another question, Jean.

Jean Setzfand: Next caller is Olivia from Washington, D.C.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Olivia, go ahead with your question.

Olivia: Thank you. I want to know, has anyone thought of designing an immune system booster shot?

Bill Walsh: A question on the booster shot, Dr. Gottlieb. Can you handle that one?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Absolutely. So the answer is yes. Our pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Moderna are already working on booster shots to help boost our immune system, not yet knowing for sure whether we’ll need them, and if so, when or how often we’ll need them, but we want to have them ready to go if we do need them. I think it’s important to point out that the more people we can get vaccinated now, the less likely it is that we will need more boosters moving forward, just because the more of the virus is circulating, the more it has chance to mutate and escape our current vaccines. So regardless, there is a decent chance we will need at least one booster at some point in the future, but beyond that remains to be seen.

Bill Walsh: OK, Dr. Gottlieb, thanks for that. … Jean, who do we have next on the line?

Jean Setzfand: Our next caller is Vicki from Texas.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Vicki, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Vicki: Hi, thank you very much. I am fully vaccinated. I have an elder member in the family that is not going to be able to take the vaccine because of various health issues. I would like to go visit her and stay with her in her home. Should I continue to wear my mask while I am in her home with her?

Bill Walsh: That’s a good question. Dr. Hebert, do you have some thoughts on that?

Warren Hebert: Thank you, Vicki. And we’re neighbors, I’m in Louisiana and you’re in Texas. The prudent activity anytime you’re with someone who hasn’t been vaccinated would be to wear a mask. The fact that you’re fully vaccinated, the science that I have read, and I’d be interested in Dr. Gottlieb and Dr. Caine’s input, the science I’ve read is that if you’re fully vaccinated, you have a much lower likelihood of getting it yourself, but you could still potentially carry it to someone else. And that science has been changing so frequently, again, I’d look forward to Dr. Gottlieb or Dr. Caine’s input on that. Thank you, Bill.

Bill Walsh: Dr. Gottlieb, did you want to chime in on that real quickly?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sure, so you know, Dr. Hebert, you’re right. We have more data about our ability to get sick after being vaccinated than our ability to transmit the infection. We do, at this point, know that there seems to be a reduced risk of transmitting and making … getting somebody else sick, even if we were, ourselves are not symptomatic, but that risk probably isn’t zero. So I think if you’re going to be with somebody who’s not vaccinated and who’s high risk for complications, it’s always safer to wear a mask yourself.

Bill Walsh: Yeah. All right. Thanks for that. Jean, who is our ...

Virginia Caine: I just wanted to comment, too, sorry.

Bill Walsh: Go ahead.

Virginia Caine: It’s that we have had some cases of breakthrough infections after people have been vaccinated. So our vaccines are not a 100 percent in terms of our efficacy, maybe about 5 percent where the vaccines won’t be able to mount an antibody response. So I think you heard about … it was the New York Yankees or somebody where they’d all been vaccinated, and they have got some reinfection. I just think … even though those numbers are incredibly small, but like both our panel members, I also believe it’s prudent to wear a mask in those settings.

Bill Walsh: OK, thank you to all our experts. Jean, who is our next caller?

Jean Setzfand: Our last question is coming from YouTube, and it’s a two-parter from Kenny, who’s asking about the vaccine testing. “Do you believe the vaccines were thoroughly tested? What additional testing would be required for the CDC, the FDA to approve it, if not for the emergency declaration exemption.” And also, a follow-up to that was also related to the efficacy of the vaccine against new strains. “What tests are being done?”

Bill Walsh: Got it. Dr. Gottlieb, can you handle those two questions?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sure. As far as the first question of what testing was done and what additional testing might need to be done, so even though this process went quickly, it went through all the normal steps that any other vaccine study would go through. We still looked at the same number of people in the research trials, and we looked for the same kinds of outcomes. At this point there isn’t really additional testing that needs to be done. And, in fact, it is likely that Pfizer will be applying for that final stamp of approval very soon, and there isn’t necessarily additional data that that needs to be shown. I think one of the key things that led for an emergency use authorization early on, instead of an immediate final stamp of approval, was more just because we didn’t yet have enough months of follow-up to know how long the shots would work for. And at this point, we’re seeing them work six months, eight months, 10 months after those first people got vaccinated. We’re getting close to that point where it’s enough for approval.

            As far as what we’re doing to look at the efficacy of these vaccines against the newer variants, there’s a couple of different things. The researchers are looking in our laboratories to try to show evidence in the lab that they work against these newer variants. But we also now have data just looking at the countries where newer variants are circulating more. So, for instance, in New York City, that variant from the United Kingdom that got a lot of attention, that’s the most highly circulating variant here, and yet we’re still seeing the vaccines work. So we’ve got lab data and real world data.

Bill Walsh: OK, very good. Well, thank you, thank you for that, to all our experts. Dr. Gottlieb, I want to follow up on an issue that came up earlier, and that’s about vaccine hesitancy, and the possibility of not reaching herd immunity, possibly laying the ground for … new variants and an endemic. What is an endemic and how significant is the risk of breakthrough variants?

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sure, so I think this is an important topic for people to understand and particularly those individuals who are still on the fence about whether to get vaccinated or not. The likelihood at our current rate is that we won’t yet reach that point of herd immunity, meaning we won’t reach the point where so many people are vaccinated that even an unvaccinated individual basically has no chance of becoming infected because everybody else around them is vaccinated. More likely, this will become like a lot of other viruses that circulate and become endemic, meaning it’s basically circulating at low levels in our environment. And, therefore, there’s always the risk for outbreaks and always the risk for seasonal increases the way we see flu go up every year in the winter. So I think some people who aren’t vaccinated at this point are seeing our decreasing numbers and saying, “OK, I got lucky. I got past this and now I don’t need to worry about the future because our numbers are going down.” But the likelihood is those numbers aren’t going to go to zero. And with low-level circulation, we remain susceptible to infection, particularly if we’re unvaccinated.

            In addition, because all viruses naturally mutate, which is the process by which these newer variants form, the more that that virus can circulate, the more people who can get infected, then the higher the risk of newer variants arising, leading to us needing more boosters in the future. So the more shots we can get in the arm now, the less likely we’ll need more shots in the future, and the less likely those of us who are unvaccinated will get sick.

Bill Walsh: OK, thanks for that, Dr. Gottlieb. Dr. Caine, with the disparate impact of the coronavirus among communities of color, what are we doing to increase the access to the vaccine? And what more should we be doing?

Virginia Caine: I think we have to … let me just say, I’m the Section Chair of the National Medical Association — that’s the oldest and largest Black physician group in the country representing over 41 states and so many metropolitan and rural areas. You have to go out to the people. You know, we’re always telling folks that you have to come to us for services, but we need to understand how to mobilize and go into those communities. … We’re doing a lot of mobile pop-up vaccinations in these communities. We’re partnering with faith-based organizations, some of our traditional civic organizations, with our Latinx populations, our African American Black populations; they are the trusted messengers out into their community. You know, they’re the ambassadors. They’re involved in their social networks with their friends and their colleagues, so we’re also, at least in Indianapolis, we’re given a $1 million mini-grant to predominantly people of color to do that community education outreach for us — help people know where the vaccine sites are, how to tell them about how to get free transportation back and forth related to that, try to give them the type of education that dispels myths, but also talk about their challenges and help us address those issues. For example, we had employers when they were told by their, for example, Latinx population that they were positive and that they had to quarantine for 10 days, they were fired on the spot. And so we have to be able to deal with a lot of these issues, but we have to have critical partnerships with the very people we want to reach. They have to see themselves as speakers.

Bill Walsh: Great point. Thank you for that, Dr. Caine, and thanks to each of our experts for answering these questions. This has been a really informative discussion. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of the Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, May 21. That’s aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers.

            We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Tonight, we have a special 7 p.m. event on the coronavirus vaccine, Reality versus Rumor. And we will return on June 3 at 1 p.m. ET for another live event, answering your questions about the coronavirus. We hope you’ll join us. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

Bill Walsh:  Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you’d like to hear this telephone town hall in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

[00:00:20] AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global, coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Across the country the rate of vaccination is improving, prompting the CDC to relax the mask-wearing mandates and recommend vaccination for everyone ages 12 and older. With over 84 percent of adults 65 and older having received at least one dose, many people now have questions about if and how to transition to family and community activities, especially now that there are new variants of COVID-19 in circulation. Should we go back to old norms? And if not, what are the new ones? Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more.

[00:01:20] If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town hall before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you’d like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question and place you in a queue to ask that question live. If you’d like to listen in Spanish, press *0 on your telephone keypad now. If you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

[00:02:03] We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including health experts from Infection Prevention at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City, Loyola University of New Orleans and the HomeCare Association of Louisiana, and Marion County Public Health Department in Indiana. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand, who will help facilitate your calls today.

[00:02:50] This event is being recorded and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up.

[00:03:15] Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Lindsay Gottlieb, M.D., is the director of Infection Prevention at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Gottlieb.

[00:03:28]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Thanks so much for having me and letting me participate in this important discussion.

[00:03:32]Bill Walsh:  All right, we’re delighted to have you. Also joining us is Warren P. Hebert, Jr., doctor of nursing practice and adjunct professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, adjunct affiliate with Rutgers Institute of Health and Healthcare Policy and Aging Research, and CEO of the HomeCare Association of Louisiana. Dr. Hebert, you wear many hats. Welcome back to the program.

[00:03:58]Warren Hebert:  Thank you very much, Bill. I appreciate the opportunity.

[00:04:02]Bill Walsh:  All right. And finally, Virginia Caine, M.D., is the director and chief medical officer of the Marion County, Indiana, Public Health Department. She is also associate professor of medicine at Indiana University’s School of Medicine and the Division of Infectious Diseases. Welcome, Dr. Caine.

[00:04:24]Virginia Caine:  Thank you.

[00:04:25]Bill Walsh:  All right, delighted to have you. Let’s go ahead and get started with our discussion. … Dr. Gottlieb, let’s start with you. CDC guidance last week says that fully vaccinated people can now resume all activities and relax mask wearing for almost all situations. What have we learned about vaccines to take this step? And where might you still take precautions?

[00:04:59]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Sure. I think it’s first helpful just to remind everybody what it means to be fully vaccinated. The CDC defines full vaccination as being at least two weeks after your last dose of the vaccine that you elect to get. So for Johnson & Johnson, that would be two weeks after the first dose; for Moderna and Pfizer, two weeks after the second dose. And we have learned a lot at this point. Importantly, all three of these vaccines significantly reduce the risk of the vaccinated individual of getting infected with COVID-19, if they’re exposed to the virus and even more importantly, really, really significantly reduce the risk of that individual being hospitalized or dying if they do, in a rare case, get infected after a vaccine. In fact, the rates are almost zero of hospitalization and death in a fully vaccinated individual. And we have data from the studies that were performed prior to the authorization to prove those points, but also from real-world observations at this point of the hundreds of millions of individuals who have gotten the vaccine and gone on to do well. We also have data to show similar efficacy against some of the newer variants that are circulating. In addition, we’ve seen that there’s a reduced risk of transmission, meaning that in the rare case where somebody who’s vaccinated does get infected, there’s a lower likelihood that that person will go on and infect somebody else with the virus.

[00:06:24] But you asked me, where might you still take precaution? So first I think it’s important to point out that there are some areas that are still required to wear, for vaccinated individuals to wear masks as per the CDC. And those most significantly are any sorts of public transportation, including the stations. So subways, airplanes and airports still require universal masking as per the CDC, as well as health care settings. So you should expect to wear a mask when you walk into your doctor’s office or to visit somebody in the hospital. And there’s some other places as well, including shelters. Beyond that, I think a lot of it is looking at your own personal risk and particularly for individuals who are immunocompromised, understanding that we don’t have as much data yet to know whether these vaccines are as effective in people who do not have a normal immune system. So for people on very high dose steroids, chemotherapy or medications for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, they may want to act more like somebody who’s unvaccinated, even if they’ve gotten their vaccine doses and continue to mask.

[00:07:27] Lastly, you just need to think about your own personal tolerance for risk. So I know for myself being in this field, my plan for the short term at least is if I’m in a crowded indoor setting where I don’t know the vaccine status of those people around me, I’ll probably still throw on a mask, or if I’m going to be in close, extended contact indoors with somebody where I don’t know that they were vaccinated, I may choose to wear a mask as well. And that has to be a personal decision based on your level of risk tolerance.

[00:07:54]Bill Walsh:  Yeah, it’s very interesting. We’re in kind of tricky times now with the etiquette and the norm. We’re going to get more into that later in the program. You started off, Dr. Gottlieb, by making a very interesting point, which was that we now have millions of examples of people having taken the vaccine and seeing side effects or no side effects. What would you say to people who are still hesitant about the vaccine because they might say, oh, it was rushed to market, or there wasn’t enough study.

[00:08:23]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Yeah, that’s a very common question and concern that we hear about, and I understand where people are coming from because there has been so much news coverage about how this went so quickly, but I like to remind people that there are reasons that this went so quickly that have nothing to do with skipping any sort of steps about safety. For one, a lot of times these studies just take longer because there’s not enough funding. And in this case, everybody in the world was focused on this one virus and funding that was supposed to go to another place, got transitioned into COVID research. So the money was there, and the money was there to even manufacturer the vaccines with a plan to throw them out if they didn’t work. So there was a lot of money that helped. In addition, there’s been 10 to 20 years of research leading up to this looking at other coronaviruses, things like SARS and MERS, and also looking at these mRNA technologies for other infections and even for cancer treatment that allowed us to get to this point. So the study still went through the same phase one, two, three parts of the normal research trials that occurred. And we, at this point, have observed a lot of people for the amount of time during which we would normally expect a side effect to occur from a vaccine, which is usually within the first four to six weeks after vaccination. At this point, we have almost a year of data from the early individuals in the trials. So we do have a lot of safety data at this point.

[00:09:40]Bill Walsh:  All right, OK. Thank you for that, Dr. Gottlieb. Let’s turn to you, Dr. Caine. Local communities have been the hub for an effective vaccine rollout. What did communities like yours learn from the COVID vaccine rollout, and how do you adapt to future public health crises?

[00:09:59]Virginia Caine:  I think what this epidemic has highlighted is that we had glaring deficiencies in terms of our health care systems related to access. And we’ve also seen a growing diversity in the different populations, different cultures and even the different languages needed to provide education, and how to promote different locations where vaccines are noted. For example, in Indianapolis, we were surprised at the number of people, not only from just a health literacy standpoint, but just literacy alone who don’t have the ability to read or write. Whereas we have put up a lot of our materials at third and fourth grade reading levels, it wasn’t effective. And so learning that we have to have different modes of outreach to our community, and also, for example, being able to have a call system, which I think AARP has helped to assist, at least in the state of Indiana, for people because of poverty issues are just not techie [and] don’t have access to internet and wouldn’t know how to do registration, having the ability to have a call number and have someone do the registration for them.

[00:11:39] Transportation … you know, a lot of people lost their jobs, especially in the hospitality area. So when you lose your job what happens sometimes, you lose your health insurance as well once you’ve lost your job. And we saw increasing homeless individuals out there that we needed to provide services for. So how do we set up a system when maybe a fifth of your population, they don’t have a primary care provider. They don’t have the ability to go to emergency rooms because they’re so overwhelmed, and our critical beds were full, how do you communicate and get the message out to them but also guaranteeing that because of lack of access, we’re not seeing increasing hospitalizations and increasing deaths, especially as it relates to our different racial and ethnic populations. Our African Americans, our Latinx population and our Native Americans are having about almost four times the hospitalizations compared to their white counterparts and 2.8 times the death rates compared to our counterparts. And so really requiring critical, effective vaccinations, because if you don’t have access and you have issues, maybe a vaccine hesitancy, we may find large pockets of our residents were not vaccinated that may be vulnerable to super-spread outbreaks related to these new virulent, variant strengths.

[00:13:37]Bill Walsh:  Right.

[00:13:38]Virginia Caine:  So the lesson learned, right quick, we need trusted ambassadors in the very populations that we need to reach in order to partner.

[00:13:49]Bill Walsh:  Yep, good point. I think this episode is going to be studied by public health officials for many years, a lot of lessons to learn here. Thank you for that, Dr. Caine. You know, while many people are ready to resume their normal activities, the truth is a lot of people are reluctant. Dr. Hebert, how significant is this anxiousness and how do you go about supporting loved ones who feel stuck or reluctant to kind of reenter life as they knew it?

[00:14:22]Warren Hebert:  Bill, thanks for the question. And I’ll add that I’m a grandfather to 12 grandchildren. When we talk about normal activities, for us one of the most difficult things was spending time away from our grandchildren and not having the opportunity to engage them as often as we do. Nine of our 12 grandkids live within 10 minutes, and the other three are only 90 minutes away. The question about resuming normal activities really depends on what your normal is. For some people, they are more alone. They do have fewer people in their circle, and they generally are relatively close to home. So for that sort of normal, it’s going to be different from someone whose normal is in a large urban area, who is traveling on public transportation, or someone like me who decided to take the risk last week to get on a plane for the first time in 14 months. I traveled to be with my friends of mine in California. And the travel experience was interesting. I know that there’s a higher risk because I’m going to be engaging people, not only from other parts of the country, but from other parts of the world. I was surprised that there were no requests for me to show my vaccine card, but again, the point of being normal and having a degree of anxiety about that is a routine thing.

[00:15:54] As we look back to normal, ask yourself what that normal is for you. As Dr. Gottlieb talked out a little bit earlier, many people in the population are immunosuppressed, meaning that they’ve got a higher likelihood of catching the coronavirus and other diseases. So from that perspective, I really feel like going back to normal activities does offer a degree of anxiety, and I think that that’s a good thing because it is going to cause us to be more prudent in the way that we go about our activities. And to be honest with you, not go back to the normal, which prior to COVID was not washing our hands near enough, being in people’s faces and not worrying if somebody was coughing and sneezing on us, you know, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to that. Thank you, Bill.

[00:16:46]Bill Walsh:  All right, thanks Dr. Hebert for that. … I want to bring in Nancy LeaMond. Nancy is the executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer here at AARP. Welcome, Nancy.

[00:17:10]Nancy LeaMond:  Thanks, Bill. Thanks for having me.

[00:17:12]Bill Walsh:  All right. There’s been a lot of action on COVID-19 on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures over the past few months. What’s the latest?

[00:17:21]Nancy LeaMond:  Well, there has indeed. It’s been a very busy stretch with a lot of action after months of AARP advocacy, urging Congress to act, to respond to the pandemic. As many of our listeners know, there were some positive actions in March when President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which included several AARP priorities. The legislation addressed immediate health needs from the pandemic — including more support for COVID vaccine efforts, an expansion of subsidies that will make coverage under the Affordable Care Act much more affordable, improved infection control in nursing homes, and more. It also addressed many economic and financial needs stemming from the pandemic, including payments to millions of older adults and expanding paid leave tax credits, and the Child Tax Credit. AARP state offices across the country are continuing this advocacy by working with governors and state legislatures to allocate funding provided to states in ways that continue to address the needs of those over 50.

[00:18:33] For example, AARP West Virginia recently advocated for the governor to make older homebound residents a priority, and AARP Massachusetts successfully advocated the passage of a bill that provides emergency paid sick leave for those who get COVID-19, for caregivers of those who get COVID 19, and simply for getting a vaccine. So looking forward, Congress will soon begin working on an infrastructure plan, and AARP will continue to fight for the financial and health security of older adults by pushing for continued access to vaccines, taking action to lower the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs that continue to cripple many family budgets, and improving access to high-speed internet, safe transportation, and better housing options across the country. It’s a bit busy agenda for us.

[00:19:30]Bill Walsh:  It sure is. Thanks for walking us through that update, Nancy. As the vaccine distribution process continues, where is AARP focusing its efforts?

[00:19:40]Nancy LeaMond:  Since the start of this pandemic, AARP has been fighting for our constituency, calling for big investments in research around treatments and vaccines for this virus. And I’m glad to say those efforts are paying off. Once the vaccines were available, we knew this was the issue that mattered most to people over 50. And that’s why we worked with the Trump administration and the Biden administration, and in every single state to make older people a priority. That’s also why we publish online guides for every state explaining how to get the vaccine where you live. And you can find those at aarp.org/vaccineinfo. Because of our work governments prioritize long-term care facilities and older Americans. Cases in nursing homes have thankfully dropped drastically, although there are still some serious concerns. And more than 70 percent of people 65 and older are now fully vaccinated.

[00:20:45] There’s, of course, still a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine can get it, and people who may still have questions need to have them answered. AARP state offices remain hard at work reaching out to older adults across the country. For example, AARP Alabama is working with the Alabama United Way’s 211 system to help residents register for a COVID-19 vaccine, and AARP Maryland, my home state, launched an effort with messages in English and Spanish on buses and in bus shelters aimed at audiences that lack internet access. Now as the rollout continues, we’re going to keep the pressure up on elected leaders, and we’ll be focused on ensuring that older adults, particularly older adults of color and those who are homebound, have access to the vaccine. To stay up-to-date with all of our efforts, please visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus. Thanks so much for letting me join you today, Bill.

[00:21:52]Bill Walsh:  All right. Thanks, Nancy, for that great update. We really appreciate it. …

[00:22:18] We are going to get to all of [your] questions shortly, but before we do, I wanted to address an important issue. We know that some of you are still having challenges registering for vaccines in your state and community because many places require signups through online forums. And if you don’t have access to a computer, this can be a real challenge. AARP wants to help. We’ve established AARP Vaccine Finders Support Team to try to assist in these cases. So if you’re listening today, and you don’t have a computer, and you can’t register for a vaccine in your community because you don’t have access to technology, press 1 on your telephone keypad to be added to a list to receive a call from an AARP staff member to assist you. Again, if you’re listening today and you don’t have access to a computer or the internet and cannot register for a vaccine because of that, that please press 1 to be added to a list to receive a call to get some help. When you do, you’ll listen to a brief message and then you’ll be returned to this call.

[00:23:27] It’s now time to address your questions about the coronavirus and the vaccines with Dr. Lindsay Gottlieb, Dr. Warren Hebert, and Dr. Virginia Caine. Please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member to share your question. I’d like to now bring in my AARP colleague Jean Setzfand to help facilitate your calls today. Welcome, Jean.

[00:23:52]Jean Setzfand:  Thanks so much, Bill. Delighted to be here.

[00:23:54]Bill Walsh:  All right, who is our first caller today?

[00:23:57]Jean Setzfand:  Our first caller is Evelyn from Tennessee.

[00:24:01]Bill Walsh:  Evelyn. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:24:05]Evelyn:  Thank you. I understand that a lot of states have lifted the mandate to wear a mask, and I want to know what do you think about that situation. I’m going to continue to wear mine for as long as I feel like I need to. What do you think about it? Do you think it’s too early, or do you think that this other COVID-19, the other kind that’s coming out, will that have a bad effect? I’d like to know what AARP thinks about that.

[00:24:41]Bill Walsh:  Evelyn, thanks for that question. I think it’s on a lot of people’s minds. Dr. Gottlieb, you were just talking about this issue. Do you want to talk about it with Evelyn?

[00:24:51]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Absolutely. You know, I think that was a tough decision for the CDC, and no matter when they decided to make this change, there were going to be some people who thought they were too early and some people who thought they were too late. I do think that we’re at a point where we’ve got consistently decreasing rates of COVID throughout the country, decreasing rates of hospitalizations. And it is important that people be able to resume normalcy in businesses, be able to get back to sort of normal operations, but that doesn’t mean that we should drop all of our safety precautions. As I mentioned, there are some places where we’re still required to wear masks, including in health care, on buses, subways, trains, planes … but I think for each individual, it’s understandable that we should be able to make our own decisions also about where we continue to want to wear a mask. If you feel more comfortable wearing it walking into the grocery store or you know, going to the salon, I think that that’s completely reasonable. And the hope and recommendation is that those individuals who are unvaccinated will continue to wear masks in all of those situations as well. You referenced the newer variants of COVID-19 that are circulating, and the good news is that we do have evidence at this point that our vaccines are effective against these newer variants, but, of course, if we relax ourselves too much, and if those individuals who are unvaccinated don’t continue to get masked and don’t hopefully get vaccinated, then it is possible that we’ll see those numbers go up again. So these are the recommendations for now, and hopefully we’ll continue to see an improvement, and it’ll be able to stay that way.

[00:26:23]Bill Walsh:  All right. OK, Dr. Gottlieb, thanks for that. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:26:28]Jean Setzfand:  We have a question coming in on Facebook, and Phil is asking, “I’ve had COVID early in January 2021, and have been left unable to walk as a result. What provision has been made to get vaccinations to those who are homebound? Are there any provisions for caregiver costs to homebound, to if you are homebound due to COVID?”

[00:26:51]Bill Walsh:  Hmm, that’s an interesting question. Dr. Hebert, do you want to tackle that?

[00:26:56]Warren Hebert:  Absolutely. Phil, thank you for asking that question. And you know, you’re certainly in all of our thoughts related to the experiences that you’re having after having had COVID. With regards to homebound, I work in home health care, and those who have difficulty getting out of the house, many of them are having injections brought to them in the home setting. But by far, the more prominent situation is that even though people qualify for home health ‘cause it’s difficult to get out, many of them can go out to their local pharmacy for injection, some are actually getting them in a grocery store, [and] many of them have their primary care providers that are administering vaccine to them. But with regards to receiving a vaccination at home, that varies in different parts of the country. So finding out through AARP what’s available to you in your part of the country would be the best way for you to go about getting that vaccine at home. Thanks, Phil.

[00:28:02]Bill Walsh:  OK, thanks for that. Dr. Caine, I don’t know if you had anything to offer Phil there as well.

[00:28:09]Virginia Caine:  I wanted to add that we have our Indiana Division of Family Social Services, and so they’ve contracted out with our senior agencies that you may have in your local communities and partnering with your local health department, our Indianapolis Emergency Management, and even … some of our community centers where we coordinate going into the homes that are of the people who are not able to be mobile. And it’s easier I think for us in Indiana, because we’ve looked on our lists for people who have been receiving services, and we really know the majority of them who are not mobile, but we’ll come into your home, give you that vaccination, and come back, and so it does vary. But I think we have to be more concerned in some of our rural areas who don’t always have the density of services like we have in large urban areas.

[00:29:20]Bill Walsh:  Thank you for that, Dr. Caine. And Phil, just so you know, it’s different in almost every state. AARP has created state-by-state guidelines. If you go to aarp.org/vaccineinfo, you can pull up the guide for your state, and there should be some helpful toll-free numbers there that you can ask questions about your situation. All right, Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:29:49]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Stephanie from Tennessee.

[00:29:52]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Stephanie, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:29:56]Stephanie:  Yes, I have a lot of allergies, and I was hesitant to get it because my doctor said he didn’t want me to, but I went ahead and got the Pfizer one, the first shot, because I wanted some protection, and I didn’t want to get COVID. So I thought that would be the least evil. But I’ve had a lot of reactions, and I’m not taking the second shot. I want to know how much protection I have from the first shot.

[00:30:29]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Gottlieb, can you address Stephanie’s question?

[00:30:32]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Sure. So we do have data to say that at least in the short term, that first shot actually does give a lot of protection and can be similar to the protection from two shots, but what we don’t know are two things: one, will one shot protect us for as long as the full two-shot series would; and two, will it protect us as well against some of the newer variants that are a little bit more challenging to prevent infection from. So obviously, everybody has to speak to their own doctors when there’s complicated issues with allergies and severe side effects. But I do, in general, suggest individuals who have history of allergies to not only talk to their primary doctor, but, if possible, an allergist as well, because even for most people with a history of allergies, there is a way to get these shots and get them safely.

[00:31:27]Bill Walsh:  OK, thanks very much for that. I appreciate it.

[00:31:32]Virginia Caine:  Bill, could I answer?

[00:31:32]Bill Walsh:  Yeah, go ahead, Dr. Caine.

[00:31:34]Virginia Caine:  I would just pipe in. I think that some people say to range of efficacy from one vaccine varies anywhere from about 50 to 70 percent. But I think the other thing that … she can consider [is] that if she ever gets an infection of COVID-19, and she has a contraindication to getting that second vaccine, we have other treatments called like monoclonal antibodies. These are sort of manmade antibodies that can be given that can also extend immunity for a period of about three months or so if they become infected, and they have a milder version of the COVID-19, prevent them from developing into a more severe stage. So she should talk to her provider just to be prepared in case she should get infected.

[00:32:33]Bill Walsh:  Thanks to our experts for all of those answers. And we’re going to take some more questions shortly. But I wanted to get back to our experts. Earlier we were discussing how people vary in their thoughts and feelings about gatherings with families and friends. And Dr. Hebert, what do you do if an adult child or a family member refuses to get a vaccine and they want to come to visit?

[00:32:59]Warren Hebert:  Bill, unfortunately, that question has to be asked across the country, far too many times in the average day. I’ve had conversations like this with friends of mine who are over 65, and people who on occasion are immunosuppressed. So what many of them have done is to talk with that adult child and say … I’d love to visit with you, I’m concerned that you have not gotten a vaccination because I’m older, and because I have a higher likelihood of getting the disease. So to just put that out upfront is important. Some alternatives might be that instead of having that adult child, if they’re traveling from another city to be with you in your home, you might suggest that they get a hotel room and that when they do come over to visit, you could visit outside. That significantly decreases the risk that they might share something with you. If it’s an adult child that lives in town, again, visiting outside with them reduces the risk — or maybe finding a restaurant somewhere that has outdoor dining. These are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood, but the reality of this is that our relationships with our families are still going to be around after we get COVID under control a bit more. So you certainly don’t want to do anything that’s going to cause a long-term rift within the family. Being kind, being gentle, being generous, and trying to be understanding that while you’ve got some concerns about getting the disease from that person who’s not immunized, a lot of those folks who are choosing not to get vaccinations have their own rationale for not receiving the shot. So I think trying to understand people where they are and love them as you would love any family member if they’re feeling a little bit different from you. I hope that helps, Bill.

[00:34:57]Bill Walsh:  Yeah, thanks for that Dr. Hebert. Dr. Caine, I wonder what your thoughts are on that. Is it a good idea to reconnect with a family member if they aren’t vaccinated?

[00:35:07]Virginia Caine:  I think it’s always a good idea to reconnect, but I’m just going to go with Dr. Hebert. It depends on how you do your communications. And … if you are an older individual, your immunity’s not quite the same as if you were younger, and because of the various strains that are out there now, we have a significant number of individuals who have no symptoms. They feel great, they have no fever, and yet they can be infected, or they can … have no symptoms at least two days if they do develop symptoms, and so I have to tell my family members that you may be fine, but you can transmit that infection to other members unknowingly based on being infected. And so, I strongly feel that you have to be very careful about allowing someone inside your household, because just talking normally will allow respiratory droplets to get in the air and may remain for a while if they’re inside your household, and especially if they’re not wearing a mask. So I love the idea about being able to communicate with them outdoors, and lower their risk significantly, or have some kind of mode where you can see a person’s face maybe on your telephone or whatever, like Skype or something like that, but I really am concerned if you have anyone in your household that may be undergoing chemotherapy, they may be an organ transplant person recently, so it also sometimes depends on who’s inside your household in terms of determining whether you want a visit from someone who’s unvaccinated.

[00:37:21]Bill Walsh:  Great points, Dr. Caine. Thanks for that. Dr. Gottlieb, let’s talk about children for a second. Now that the CDC recommends children ages 12 through 15 get vaccinated, do unvaccinated children present an increased risk at family activities where adults are fully vaccinated? And when do you expect we’ll see the green light for vaccinations for younger kids?

[00:37:47]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Great questions. And, of course, ones we’re starting to hear a lot of. There’s no question in having any unvaccinated individuals, whether that be because they’re not yet eligible for vaccine or because they’re too young or just not opting to get it, do introduce an increased risk compared to a family activity where everybody can be vaccinated. That being said, we know that children for the most part do not get as sick when they do get infected with COVID-19 as adults, thankfully. And we know that immunocompetent vaccinated adults also are much less likely to get very sick. So the risk to that group, as long as there’s nobody who has a low immune system, is still relatively low. That being said, once you start having several kids who are unvaccinated from multiple family members, the recommendation at that point would be … you’ve got unvaccinated people, at least those unvaccinated individuals should be wearing masks. And it may get complicated to say, I’m going to ask my 7-year-old kid to wear a mask, but I, as an adult, I’m not going to. So particularly when hanging out indoors, if you’re going to have multiple unvaccinated children there from multiple families, it may be worth all masking just as not to ask the kids to do something that the adults aren’t doing. And like Dr. Caine said, also thinking about if any of the vaccinated adults are immunocompromised, then that risk of introducing an unvaccinated child may be higher, and masking becomes more important. As far as when we think kids will … as far as your last question about kids getting vaccinated, you know the studies are already underway. As you mentioned, we’ve started vaccinating ages 12 to 15 in the past couple weeks, and the expectation is that we may be able to start with ages 2 and up later in the fall or early winter. And even with younger babies, either the end of this year or early next year.

[00:39:43]Bill Walsh:  Thanks for that update, Dr. Gottlieb. Really appreciated it. It’s now time to address more of your questions with Dr. Lindsay Gottlieb, Dr. Warren Hebert and Dr. Virginia Caine. … Jean, who do we have next on the line?

[00:40:03]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Hattie from California.

[00:40:06]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Hattie. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:40:10]Hattie:  Thank you for taking my call. My question is, I’m 71 years old, and I have a caregiver. My caregiver refuses to get the vaccine. Now I’ve had the vaccine, the Pfizer, both shots and I did fine. I did fine. But I was hoping that you all could somehow make sure that the employer makes the employee get the vaccine if they’re coming into our home taking care of us. I don’t see why they shouldn’t … be vaccinated as well. Am I asking a question that’s outlandish?

[00:41:10]Bill Walsh:  No, I don’t think it’s outlandish at all, Hattie. I wonder if you’ve called the caregiving agency yourself?

[00:41:18]Hattie:  I can call the agency myself. I can.

[00:41:24]Bill Walsh:  Let’s ask one of our experts what they would do. … Hang on and we’ll get an answer for you. Dr. Hebert, do you want to address that?

[00:41:31]Warren Hebert:  Hattie, thank you so much. This is a really important issue for us to be discussing and you articulated it very, very well. One of the curiosities that we’re dealing with COVID and also with our immunizations, is that we don’t have near as high a number of health care workers getting immunized as we had hoped. As we look back on this, one of the things that I hope that we put some money to, is having a look at the human behavior. In your specific case, the fact that your caregiver has decided not to get it puts you in a precarious situation, particularly if you like that caregiver. But one of the things that you might want to consider is asking the company for a caregiver who has received their immunization. Essentially what that does is it lets the employer know that that’s important to you.

[00:42:31] In our own situation, my daughter who’s 30 has Down Syndrome, and she has caregivers coming in, and we’re insisting that the caregivers get vaccinated. We happen to be in a self-directed situation, so they don’t work for companies, they work directly for us. But I do think that you have a valid concern. I think Bill’s suggestion is good, calling and letting the employer know so that they’re aware that this is very important to you and your own well-being. I’m not an expert in this particular area. I’m sure Dr. Gottlieb or Dr. Caine can add something else, but because you’re fully vaccinated, you’re much safer than you would be with someone who has had no vaccinations. So congratulations on going out.

[00:43:18] And by the way, I’ll mention that of those of us over the age of 65, 85 percent of the population has gotten one shot, and 73 percent of those over 65 have been fully vaccinated. Thanks, Bill.

[00:43:38]Bill Walsh:  OK, thanks Dr. Hebert. Jean, who is next on the line?

[00:43:45]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Thomas from Washington.

[00:43:49]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Thomas, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:43:54]Thomas:  Thank you very much for taking my call. I’ve got bad hearing, so don’t hesitate to yell, that will be fine. My question … well, I’ll kind of do a little paraphrasing here. I’m a member of the Choctaw Tribe out of Oklahoma who has lived in Washington State for over 30 years, and I’ve got lots of friends here, but our family has had over 25 affected by this COVID thing. And we have a large family coast to coast, and seven have died. And I have a 86-year-old friend — 5-foot-2 guitar-picking, truck-driving ladies man — that swears that it’s more harmful to do, to wear the mask than not, and he based his proclamation on watching TV. So he says the Democrats, the Republicans, you know, it’s kind of like the adult child. He doesn’t have the mind. Thankfully, he has gotten two shots, and so he should be all right, but he is just a rebellious guy and even though he’s older than me.

[00:45:36]Bill Walsh:  Right, so Thomas, you’re asking about mask-wearing, and whether people should continue to wear masks even if they’ve been vaccinated. Is that right?

[00:45:45]Thomas:  Thanks so much for getting me back on track. Yes, I am. Thank you.

[00:45:49]Bill Walsh:  All right. Thanks for the call, Thomas. Dr. Caine … maybe you can take a crack at that for Thomas.

[00:45:57]Virginia Caine:  It’s a difficult issue, Thomas, with the masks. In the new guidelines that have been put out by CDC states that if you’re outdoors, where the risk is much, much lower, that as a gentleman … if he’s jogging or doing any kind of activity, and there’s not a really large gathering at all, he doesn’t have to mask, and he doesn’t have to do a social distancing. But if you are indoors, and he’s been fully vaccinated, and he can still not necessarily require a mask and not have to do social distancing indoors … except for certain exceptions. Meaning that you can never go into a hospital system or a health care setting, and even though you’ve been fully vaccinated, that these are the exceptions where you wouldn’t really need to wear a mask and do social distancing. If you’re in airports or public transportation — like Greyhound buses, local transit systems — you would still need to require a mask even if you were vaccinated — local correctional facilities, such as that.

[00:47:30] But his ability to just say, I watch on television, and I know that people not getting transmitted, I think he’s having a false … when we had the epidemic and you were not vaccinated, there’s a false sense, and we realized that people are transmitting the infection when you were not vaccinated and not wearing a mask to other people, even without symptoms, being able to transmit that infection. And I say that is, if you can remember back in April, when all this first started, and in April you could look at the tons of hospital systems that were so overwhelmed, so many people dying in our long-term care facilities, and even a significant number of health care workers died when they were not wearing those masks. But the critical tool is being fully vaccinated, but with those exceptions that I mentioned.

[00:48:39]Bill Walsh:  Right. OK, Dr. Caine, thank you for that. Let’s take another question, Jean.

[00:48:44]Jean Setzfand:  Next caller is Olivia from Washington, D.C.

[00:48:48]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Olivia, go ahead with your question.

[00:48:51]Olivia:  Thank you. I want to know, has anyone thought of designing an immune system booster shot?

[00:48:58]Bill Walsh:  A question on the booster shot, Dr. Gottlieb. Can you handle that one?

[00:49:03]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Absolutely. So the answer is yes. Our pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Moderna are already working on booster shots to help boost our immune system, not yet knowing for sure whether we’ll need them, and if so, when or how often we’ll need them, but we want to have them ready to go if we do need them. I think it’s important to point out that the more people we can get vaccinated now, the less likely it is that we will need more boosters moving forward, just because the more of the virus is circulating, the more it has chance to mutate and escape our current vaccines. So regardless, there is a decent chance we will need at least one booster at some point in the future, but beyond that remains to be seen.

[00:49:50]Bill Walsh:  OK, Dr. Gottlieb, thanks for that. … Jean, who do we have next on the line?

[00:50:00]Jean Setzfand:  Our next caller is Vicki from Texas.

[00:50:04]Bill Walsh:  Hey, Vicki, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:50:07]Vicki:  Hi, thank you very much. I am fully vaccinated. I have an elder member in the family that is not going to be able to take the vaccine because of various health issues. I would like to go visit her and stay with her in her home. Should I continue to wear my mask while I am in her home with her?

[00:50:34]Bill Walsh:  That’s a good question. Dr. Hebert, do you have some thoughts on that?

[00:50:39]Warren Hebert:  Thank you, Vicki. And we’re neighbors, I’m in Louisiana and you’re in Texas. The prudent activity anytime you’re with someone who hasn’t been vaccinated would be to wear a mask. The fact that you’re fully vaccinated, the science that I have read, and I’d be interested in Dr. Gottlieb and Dr. Caine’s input, the science I’ve read is that if you’re fully vaccinated, you have a much lower likelihood of getting it yourself, but you could still potentially carry it to someone else. And that science has been changing so frequently, again, I’d look forward to Dr. Gottlieb or Dr. Caine’s input on that. Thank you, Bill.

[00:51:19]Bill Walsh:  Dr. Gottlieb, did you want to chime in on that real quickly?

[00:51:26]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Sure, so you know, Dr. Hebert, you’re right. We have more data about our ability to get sick after being vaccinated than our ability to transmit the infection. We do, at this point, know that there seems to be a reduced risk of transmitting and making … getting somebody else sick, even if we were, ourselves are not symptomatic, but that risk probably isn’t zero. So I think if you’re going to be with somebody who’s not vaccinated and who’s high risk for complications, it’s always safer to wear a mask yourself.

[00:51:54]Bill Walsh:  Yeah. All right. Thanks for that. Jean, who is our ...

[00:51:58]Virginia Caine:  I just wanted to comment, too, sorry.

[00:52:00]Bill Walsh:  Go ahead.

[00:52:01]Virginia Caine:  It’s that we have had some cases of breakthrough infections after people have been vaccinated. So our vaccines are not a 100 percent in terms of our efficacy, maybe about 5 percent where the vaccines won’t be able to mount an antibody response. So I think you heard about … it was the New York Yankees or somebody where they’d all been vaccinated, and they have got some reinfection. I just think … even though those numbers are incredibly small, but like both our panel members, I also believe it’s prudent to wear a mask in those settings.

[00:52:46]Bill Walsh:  OK, thank you to all our experts. Jean, who is our next caller?

[00:52:51]Jean Setzfand:  Our last question is coming from YouTube, and it’s a two-parter from Kenny, who’s asking about the vaccine testing. “Do you believe the vaccines were thoroughly tested? What additional testing would be required for the CDC, the FDA to approve it, if not for the emergency declaration exemption.” And also, a follow-up to that was also related to the efficacy of the vaccine against new strains. “What tests are being done?”

[00:53:23]Bill Walsh:  Got it. Dr. Gottlieb, can you handle those two questions?

[00:53:27]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Sure. As far as the first question of what testing was done and what additional testing might need to be done, so even though this process went quickly, it went through all the normal steps that any other vaccine study would go through. We still looked at the same number of people in the research trials, and we looked for the same kinds of outcomes. At this point there isn’t really additional testing that needs to be done. And, in fact, it is likely that Pfizer will be applying for that final stamp of approval very soon, and there isn’t necessarily additional data that that needs to be shown. I think one of the key things that led for an emergency use authorization early on, instead of an immediate final stamp of approval, was more just because we didn’t yet have enough months of follow-up to know how long the shots would work for. And at this point, we’re seeing them work six months, eight months, 10 months after those first people got vaccinated. We’re getting close to that point where it’s enough for approval.

[00:54:26] As far as what we’re doing to look at the efficacy of these vaccines against the newer variants, there’s a couple of different things. The researchers are looking in our laboratories to try to show evidence in the lab that they work against these newer variants. But we also now have data just looking at the countries where newer variants are circulating more. So, for instance, in New York City, that variant from the United Kingdom that got a lot of attention, that’s the most highly circulating variant here, and yet we’re still seeing the vaccines work. So we’ve got lab data and real world data.

[00:55:00]Bill Walsh:  OK, very good. Well, thank you, thank you for that, to all our experts. Dr. Gottlieb, I want to follow up on an issue that came up earlier, and that’s about vaccine hesitancy, and the possibility of not reaching herd immunity, possibly laying the ground for … new variants and an endemic. What is an endemic and how significant is the risk of breakthrough variants?

[00:55:29]Lindsey Gottlieb:  Sure, so I think this is an important topic for people to understand and particularly those individuals who are still on the fence about whether to get vaccinated or not. The likelihood at our current rate is that we won’t yet reach that point of herd immunity, meaning we won’t reach the point where so many people are vaccinated that even an unvaccinated individual basically has no chance of becoming infected because everybody else around them is vaccinated. More likely, this will become like a lot of other viruses that circulate and become endemic, meaning it’s basically circulating at low levels in our environment. And, therefore, there’s always the risk for outbreaks and always the risk for seasonal increases the way we see flu go up every year in the winter. So I think some people who aren’t vaccinated at this point are seeing our decreasing numbers and saying, “OK, I got lucky. I got past this and now I don’t need to worry about the future because our numbers are going down.” But the likelihood is those numbers aren’t going to go to zero. And with low-level circulation, we remain susceptible to infection, particularly if we’re unvaccinated.

[00:56:33] In addition, because all viruses naturally mutate, which is the process by which these newer variants form, the more that that virus can circulate, the more people who can get infected, then the higher the risk of newer variants arising, leading to us needing more boosters in the future. So the more shots we can get in the arm now, the less likely we’ll need more shots in the future, and the less likely those of us who are unvaccinated will get sick.

[00:56:58]Bill Walsh:  OK, thanks for that, Dr. Gottlieb. Dr. Caine, with the disparate impact of the coronavirus among communities of color, what are we doing to increase the access to the vaccine? And what more should we be doing?

[00:57:14]Virginia Caine:  I think we have to … let me just say, I’m the Section Chair of the National Medical Association — that’s the oldest and largest Black physician group in the country representing over 41 states and so many metropolitan and rural areas. You have to go out to the people. You know, we’re always telling folks that you have to come to us for services, but we need to understand how to mobilize and go into those communities. … We’re doing a lot of mobile pop-up vaccinations in these communities. We’re partnering with faith-based organizations, some of our traditional civic organizations, with our Latinx populations, our African American Black populations; they are the trusted messengers out into their community. You know, they’re the ambassadors. They’re involved in their social networks with their friends and their colleagues, so we’re also, at least in Indianapolis, we’re given a $1 million mini-grant to predominantly people of color to do that community education outreach for us — help people know where the vaccine sites are, how to tell them about how to get free transportation back and forth related to that, try to give them the type of education that dispels myths, but also talk about their challenges and help us address those issues. For example, we had employers when they were told by their, for example, Latinx population that they were positive and that they had to quarantine for 10 days, they were fired on the spot. And so we have to be able to deal with a lot of these issues, but we have to have critical partnerships with the very people we want to reach. They have to see themselves as speakers.

[00:59:24]Bill Walsh:  Great point. Thank you for that, Dr. Caine, and thanks to each of our experts for answering these questions. This has been a really informative discussion. And thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan member organization has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of the Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, May 21. That’s aarp.org/coronavirus. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you will find the latest updates, as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers.

[01:00:32] We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Tonight, we have a special 7 p.m. event on the coronavirus vaccine, Reality versus Rumor. And we will return on June 3 at 1 p.m. ET for another live event, answering your questions about the coronavirus. We hope you’ll join us. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[01:01:05]

Bill Walsh: Hola, soy el vicepresidente de AARP, Bill Walsh, y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus. Antes de comenzar, si deseas escuchar esta teleasamblea en español, presiona * 0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

AARP, una organización con membresía, sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores durante más de 60 años. Frente a la pandemia mundial de coronavirus, AARP proporciona información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan.

 

En todo el país, la tasa de vacunación está mejorando, incitando a los CDC a relajar los mandatos de uso de mascarilla y recomendar la vacunación para todas las personas de 12 años en adelante. Con más del 84% de los adultos de 65 años o más que han recibido al menos una dosis, muchas personas ahora tienen preguntas sobre cómo hacer la transición a las actividades familiares y comunitarias, especialmente ahora que hay nuevas variantes de COVID-19 en circulación. ¿Deberíamos volver a las viejas normas? Y si no, ¿cuáles son las nuevas? Hoy escucharemos a un impresionante panel de expertos sobre estos temas y otros.

 

Si has participado anteriormente en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas, sabes que esto es similar a un programa de entrevistas de radio y tienes la oportunidad de hacer preguntas en vivo. Para aquellos de ustedes que nos acompañan por teléfono, si desean hacer una pregunta sobre la pandemia de coronavirus, presionen * 3 en su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará su nombre y pregunta y los colocará en una cola para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Si deseas escuchar en español, presiona * 0 en el teclado de tu teléfono ahora.

 

Persona 1: Si usted desea escuchar en español, presione * y 0 en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, puedes publicar tu pregunta en los comentarios. ¡Hola! Si acaban de unirse, soy Bill Walsh de AARP y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre la pandemia mundial de coronavirus. Estaremos hablando con principales expertos y respondiendo sus preguntas en vivo. Para hacer una pregunta, presionen * 3 y si se unen a través de Facebook o YouTube, pueden publicar sus preguntas en la sección de comentarios.

 

Hoy nos acompañan unos invitados excepcionales incluidos expertos en salud de prevención de infecciones en Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital en la ciudad de Nueva York, Loyola University of New Orleans y HomeCare Association of Louisiana, y el Departamento de Salud Pública del condado de Marion en Indiana. También nos acompañará mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, quien ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas el día de hoy.

 

Este evento está siendo grabado y podrán acceder a la grabación en aarp.org/elcoronavirus, 24 horas después de que terminemos. Nuevamente, para hacer una pregunta, presiona * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP. Si te unes a través de Facebook o YouTube, coloca tus preguntas en los comentarios.

 

Ahora, me gustaría dar la bienvenida a nuestros invitados. La Dra. Lindsey Gottlieb es la directora de Prevención de Infecciones en Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital en la ciudad de Nueva York. Bienvenida de nuevo al programa, Dra. Gottlieb.

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Muchas gracias por invitarme y permitirme participar en esta importante discusión.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, estamos encantados de tenerla. También nos acompaña Warren P. Hebert, Jr., doctor en práctica de enfermería y profesor adjunto en Loyola University en Nueva Orleans, afiliado adjunto del Rutgers Institute of Health and Healthcare Policy in Aging Research, y director ejecutivo de HomeCare Association of Louisiana. El Dr. Hebert desempeña varias funciones. Bienvenido de nuevo al programa.

 

Warren Hebert: Muchas gracias, Bill. Agradezco la oportunidad.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Y finalmente, la Dra. Virginia Caine es la directora médica del Departamento de Salud Pública de Indiana del condado de Marion. También es profesora asociada de Medicina en la Facultad de Medicina de Indiana University en la División de Enfermedades Infecciosas. Bienvenida, Dra. Caine.

 

Virginia Caine: ¡Gracias!

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, encantados de tenerla. Sigamos adelante y comencemos con nuestra discusión, y solo un recordatorio, para hacer una pregunta, presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono o suéltenla en la sección de comentarios en Facebook o YouTube.

 

Dra. Gottlieb, comencemos con usted. La guía de los CDC de la semana pasada dice que las personas completamente vacunadas ahora pueden reanudar todas las actividades y relajar el uso de la máscara para casi todas las situaciones. ¿Qué hemos aprendido sobre las vacunas para dar este paso? ¿Y dónde podríamos todavía tomar precauciones?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Claro, creo que, en primer lugar, es útil recordarles a todos lo que significa estar completamente vacunado. Los CDC definen la vacunación completa como al menos dos semanas después de la última dosis de la vacuna que uno elige recibir. Entonces, para Johnson y Johnson, eso sería dos semanas después de la primera dosis. Para Moderna y Pfizer, eso sería dos semanas después de la segunda dosis.

 

Y hemos aprendido mucho en este momento. Es importante destacar que estas tres vacunas reducen significativamente el riesgo de que el individuo vacunado se infecte con COVID-19, si estuviera expuesto al virus, y lo que es más importante, realmente, redujo significativamente el riesgo de que ese individuo sea hospitalizado o muera si, en rara ocasión, se infecta después de recibir la vacuna.

 

De hecho, las tasas de hospitalización y muerte son casi nulas en las personas completamente vacunadas. Y tenemos datos de los estudios que se realizaron antes de la autorización para probar esos puntos, pero también de observaciones del mundo real en este momento de los cientos y millones de personas que han recibido la vacuna y les ha ido bien.

 

También tenemos datos para mostrar una eficacia similar contra las variantes más nuevas que están circulando. Y además, hemos visto que hay un riesgo reducido de transmisión, lo que significa que en el raro caso de que alguien que está vacunado se infecte, hay una menor probabilidad de que la persona infecte a otra persona con el virus. Pero me preguntaste ¿dónde podrías tomar precauciones?

 

Entonces, primero, creo que es importante señalar que hay algunas áreas donde todavía se requiere que las personas vacunadas usen mascarillas según los CDC, y las más significativas son cualquier tipo de transporte público, incluidas las estaciones. Por lo tanto, el metro, los aviones y los aeropuertos aún requieren el uso universal de mascarilla según los CDC, así como en los entornos de atención médica.

 

Por lo tanto, debes usar mascarilla cuando ingreses al consultorio de tu médico o para visitar a alguien en el hospital, y también hay otros lugares, incluidos los refugios. Más allá de eso, creo que en gran parte se trata de analizar el propio riesgo personal y, en particular, el de las personas inmunodeprimidas.

 

Entender que aún no tenemos tantos datos para saber si estas vacunas son tan efectivas en las personas que no tienen un sistema inmunitario normal. Por lo tanto, para las personas que toman esteroides en dosis muy altas, medicamentos orales de quimioterapia para afecciones inflamatorias como la artritis reumatoide, es posible que quieran actuar más como alguien que no está vacunado incluso si han recibido sus dosis de vacuna, y continúen usando la mascarilla.

 

Por último, solo se necesita pensar en la propia tolerancia personal al riesgo. Entonces, sé, en mi caso, al estar en este campo, mi plan a corto plazo, al menos, es que si estoy en un ambiente cerrado lleno de gente, donde no conozco el estado de vacunación de las personas que me rodean, probablemente todavía querré ponerme una mascarilla, o si voy a estar en contacto estrecho prolongado en el interior con alguien que no sé si fue vacunado, también puedo optar por usar una mascarilla, y esa debe ser una decisión personal basada en el propio nivel de tolerancia al riesgo.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, es muy interesante. Vivimos tiempos difíciles con la etiqueta y las normas. Vamos a profundizar más en eso más adelante en el programa. Usted comenzó, Dra. Gottlieb, estableciendo un punto muy interesante que es que ahora tenemos millones de ejemplos de personas que se han vacunado y han visto efectos secundarios o ningún efecto secundario. ¿Qué les diría a las personas que todavía dudan de la vacuna porque podrían dicen: "Oh, se apresuró a lanzarse al mercado" o "no se estudió lo suficiente"?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sí, esa es una pregunta y una preocupación muy común que escuchamos y entiendo a la gente porque ha habido mucha cobertura en las noticias sobre cómo esto fue tan rápido, pero me gusta recordarle a la gente que hay razones por las que fue tan rápido, que no tienen nada que ver con saltarse ningún tipo de paso de seguridad.

 

Por un lado, muchos de estos estudios toman más tiempo porque no hay fondos suficientes y, en este caso, todo el mundo se centró en este virus y los fondos que se suponía que iban a ir a otro lugar se transfirieron a la investigación de la COVID-19. Entonces, el dinero estaba allí, e incluso el dinero estaba allí para fabricar vacunas con un plan para tirarlas si no funcionaban. Entonces, hubo mucho dinero, eso ayudó. Además, ha habido de 10 a 20 años de investigación que condujeron a esto, analizando otros coronavirus, como SARS y MERS, y también, observando la tecnología ARNm para otras infecciones e incluso para tratamientos contra el cáncer que nos permitieron llegar a este punto.

 

Entonces, los estudios pasaron por las mismas fases, una, dos, tres, parte de los ensayos de investigación normales que ocurrieron, y a esta altura, ha incluido a muchas personas durante el tiempo en el cual normalmente esperaríamos que ocurriera un efecto secundario de una vacuna que generalmente ocurre dentro de las primeras cuatro a seis semanas después de la vacunación. A esta altura, tenemos casi un año de datos de los primeros participantes de los ensayos. Entonces, tenemos muchos datos de seguridad en este momento.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, está bien. Gracias, Dra. Gottlieb. Volvamos a usted, Dra. Caine. Las comunidades locales han sido el centro de la implementación eficaz de la vacuna. ¿Qué aprendieron las comunidades como la suya del lanzamiento de la vacuna contra la COVID-19 y cómo se adaptan a futuras crisis de salud pública?

 

Virginia Caine: Creo que lo que esta epidemia ha resaltado es que teníamos una deficiencia evidente en términos de nuestros sistemas de salud relacionados con el acceso, y también hemos visto una diversidad creciente en las diferentes poblaciones, diferentes culturas e incluso los diferentes idiomas necesarios para brindar educación y cómo promover diferentes lugares donde las vacunas [inteligible].

 

Por ejemplo, en Indianápolis, nos sorprendió la cantidad de personas, no solo desde el punto de vista de la alfabetización en salud, sino de la alfabetización en sí, que no tienen la capacidad de leer o escribir. Si bien habíamos publicado muchos de nuestros materiales en los niveles de lectura de tercer y cuarto grado, no fue efectivo. Entonces, aprender que tenemos que tener diferentes modos de acercamiento a nuestra comunidad y también, por ejemplo, poder tener un sistema de llamadas, con el que creo que AARP ha ayudado, al menos en el estado de Indiana para las personas debido a la pobreza; los problemas no son simplemente técnicos.

 

No tienen acceso a internet y no sabrían cómo registrarse. Tener la capacidad de contar con un número telefónico y que alguien haga el registro por ellos. Transporte. Sabes, mucha gente perdió su trabajo, especialmente en el área de la hospitalidad. Entonces, cuando pierdes tu trabajo, eso sucede a veces, también pierdes tu seguro médico, una vez que has perdido tu trabajo, y vimos un aumento de personas sin hogar a las que necesitábamos brindar servicios.

 

Entonces, ¿cómo establecemos un sistema cuando, tal vez, 1/5 de la población no tiene un proveedor de atención primaria? No tienen la capacidad de ir a una sala de emergencias porque están muy abrumadas y nuestras camas críticas estaban llenas. ¿Cómo te comunicas y les haces llegar el mensaje? Pero también garantizamos que debido a la falta de acceso, ahora estamos viendo un aumento en las hospitalizaciones y un aumento en las muertes, especialmente en lo que se refiere a nuestras diferentes poblaciones raciales y étnicas.

 

Nuestros afroamericanos, nuestra población latina y nuestros nativos americanos están teniendo aproximadamente cuatro veces más hospitalizaciones, en comparación con sus contrapartes blancas y 2.8 veces la tasa de mortalidad en comparación con nuestras contrapartes. Por lo tanto, realmente se requieren vacunas críticas y efectivas porque si no tienes acceso y tienes problemas, tal vez dudas sobre las vacunas, es posible que encontremos grandes grupos de nuestros residentes que no están vacunados que pueden ser vulnerables a brotes muy extendidos relacionados con estas nuevas cepas o variantes.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, bueno...

 

Virginia Caine: Entonces, la lección aprendida, muy rápido, necesitamos embajadores confiables en las mismas poblaciones a las que debemos llegar para asociarnos.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, buen punto. Creo que los funcionarios de salud pública van a estudiar este episodio durante muchos años. Muchas lecciones que aprender aquí. Gracias, Dra. Caine. Sabe, si bien muchas personas están listas para reanudar sus actividades normales, la verdad es que muchas personas se muestran reacias. Dr. Hebert, ¿qué tan grande es esta ansiedad y cómo se puede ayudar a los seres queridos o a quienes se sienten atascados o reacios a reingresar a la vida tal como la conocían?

 

Warren Hebert: Bill, gracias por la pregunta, y agregaré que soy abuelo de 12 nietos. Entonces, cuando hablamos de actividades normales, para nosotros, una de las cosas más difíciles fue pasar tiempo lejos de nuestros nietos y no tener la oportunidad de involucrarlos con tanta frecuencia.

 

9 de nuestros 12 nietos viven a 10 minutos y los otros 3 están a solo 90 minutos. Entonces, la pregunta sobre la reanudación de las actividades normales realmente depende de cuál sea el nivel de "normal". Algunas personas están más solas. Tienen menos personas en su círculo y, por lo general, están relativamente cerca de su casa.

 

Entonces, para ese tipo de normalidad, será diferente de alguien cuyo "normal" es en una gran área urbana, que viaja en transporte público o alguien como yo que decidió arriesgarse la semana pasada para tomar un avión por primera vez en 14 meses. Viajé para estar con amigos míos en California y la experiencia de viaje fue interesante.

 

Sé que hay un riesgo más alto porque voy a involucrar a personas, no solo de otras partes del país, sino de otras partes del mundo. Me sorprendió que no me pidieran que mostrara mi tarjeta de vacunas, pero nuevamente, el punto de ser normal y tener un grado de ansiedad al respecto, es algo rutinario. Entonces, cuando miramos hacia atrás a la normalidad, pregúntense qué es eso normal para ustedes, como lo mencionó la Dra. Gottlieb hace un rato.

 

Muchas personas de la población están inmunodeprimidas. Lo que significa que tienen una mayor probabilidad de contraer el coronavirus y otras enfermedades. Entonces, desde esa perspectiva, realmente siento que volver a las actividades normales ofrece cierto grado de ansiedad y creo que es algo bueno porque nos hará ser más prudentes en la forma en que realizamos nuestras actividades.

 

Y para ser honesto con ustedes, no volveremos a la normalidad que antes de COVID-19 era no lavarnos las manos lo suficiente, estar cara a cara con personas y no preocuparnos si alguien estaba tosiendo y estornudando sobre nosotros. No creo que volvamos a eso. Gracias, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno muy bien, gracias Dr. Hebert, y como recordatorio a nuestros oyentes, para hacer una pregunta, por favor presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono. Y vamos a llegar a esas preguntas en vivo en breve, pero antes de hacerlo, quiero traer a Nancy LeaMond. Nancy es la vicepresidenta ejecutiva y directora de Promoción y Participación aquí en AARP. Bienvenida, Nancy.

 

Nancy LeaMond: Gracias, Bill. Gracias por invitarme.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Ha habido mucha acción sobre la COVID-19 en el Capitolio y las legislaturas estatales en los últimos meses. ¿Qué es lo último?

 

Nancy LeaMond: Bueno, así es. Ha sido un tramo muy ajetreado con mucha acción, después de meses de promoción de AARP instando al Congreso a actuar para responder a la pandemia. Como muchos de nuestros oyentes saben, hubo algunas acciones positivas en marzo cuando el presidente Biden promulgó la Ley del Plan de Rescate de Estados Unidos, que incluía varias prioridades de AARP.

 

La legislación abordó las necesidades de salud inmediatas derivadas de la pandemia. Se incluyó más apoyo para los esfuerzos de la vacuna contra la COVID-19 y la expansión de los subsidios que harán que la cobertura según la Ley de Cuidado de la Salud a Bajo Precio sea mucho más asequible y mejore el control de infecciones en hogares de ancianos y otros centros.

 

También abordó muchas necesidades económicas y financieras derivadas de la pandemia, incluidos los pagos a millones de adultos mayores y la ampliación de los créditos fiscales por vacaciones pagadas y el crédito fiscal por hijos. Las oficinas estatales de AARP en todo el país continúan esta promoción, trabajando con los gobernadores y las legislaturas estatales para asignar los fondos proporcionados a los estados de manera que continúen abordando las necesidades de las personas mayores de 50 años.

 

Por ejemplo, AARP West Virginia recientemente abogó por que el gobernador considere a los residentes adultos confinados en sus hogares una prioridad, y AARP Massachusetts defendió con éxito la aprobación de un proyecto de ley que proporciona licencia por enfermedad paga de emergencia para quienes contraen COVID-19, para los cuidadores de quienes contraen COVID-19 y simplemente para recibir una vacuna.

 

Entonces, de cara al futuro, el Congreso pronto comenzará a trabajar en un plan de infraestructura y AARP continuará luchando por la seguridad financiera y de salud de los adultos mayores presionando por el acceso continuo a las vacunas, por la toma de medidas para reducir el precio vertiginoso de los medicamentos recetados que continúan paralizando muchos presupuestos familiares y la mejora del acceso a internet de alta velocidad, transporte seguro y mejores opciones de vivienda en todo el país. Tenemos una agenda muy llena.

 

Bill Walsh: Seguro que sí. Bueno, gracias por explicarnos esa actualización, Nancy. A medida que continúa el proceso de distribución de vacunas, ¿dónde está enfocando AARP sus esfuerzos?

 

Nancy LeaMond: Bueno, desde el comienzo de esta pandemia, AARP ha estado luchando por nuestro electorado, pidiendo grandes inversiones e investigación sobre tratamientos y vacunas para este virus. Y me alegra decir que esos esfuerzos están dando sus frutos. Una vez que las vacunas estuvieron disponibles, supimos que este era el problema que más importaba a las personas mayores de 50 años, y por eso trabajamos con la Administración Trump y la Administración Biden y en todos los estados para hacer de las personas mayores una prioridad.

 

Por eso también publicamos guías en línea para cada estado, que explican cómo obtener la vacuna en el lugar donde vives. Y pueden encontrarlas en aarp.org/infovacuna. Gracias a nuestro trabajo, los Gobiernos dan prioridad a los centros de atención a largo plazo y a los adultos mayores. Afortunadamente, los casos en hogares de ancianos han disminuido drásticamente, aunque todavía existen algunas preocupaciones serias y más del 70% de las personas de 65 años o más ahora están completamente vacunadas.

 

Por supuesto, todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer para garantizar que todos los que quieran una vacuna puedan recibirla, y las personas que aún puedan tener preguntas reciban una respuesta. Las oficinas estatales de AARP siguen trabajando arduamente para llegar a los adultos mayores en todo el país.

 

Por ejemplo, AARP Alabama está trabajando con el sistema 211 de Alabama United Way para ayudar a los residentes a registrarse para recibir una vacuna contra la COVID-19, y AARP Maryland, mi estado natal, lanzó un esfuerzo con mensajes en inglés y español en los autobuses y en las paradas de autobús, dirigido a un público que carecía de acceso a internet.

 

Ahora, a medida que continúe la implementación, mantendremos la presión sobre los líderes electos y nos centraremos en asegurarnos de que los adultos mayores, en particular los adultos mayores de color y los que están confinados en casa, tengan acceso a la vacuna. Para mantenerse actualizados sobre todos nuestros esfuerzos, visiten www.aarp.org/elcoronavirus. Muchas gracias por permitirme unirme hoy, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias Nancy, por esa actualización. Nosotros realmente lo apreciamos. Como recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, si desean hacer una pregunta en vivo, presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono y si desean escuchar esta transmisión en español, presionen * 0 en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

Persona 1: Si usted desea escuchar en español, presione * y 0 en su teléfono ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Vamos a abordar todas esas preguntas en breve, pero antes de hacerlo, quería abordar un tema importante. Sabemos que algunos de ustedes todavía tienen dificultad para registrarse para recibir una vacuna en su estado y comunidad porque muchos lugares requieren suscripciones a través de foros en línea, y si no tienen acceso a una computadora, esto puede ser un verdadero desafío.

 

AARP quiere ayudar. Hemos establecido el equipo de apoyo de AARP Vaccine Finder para tratar de ayudar en estos casos. Entonces, si estás escuchando hoy y no tienes una computadora, y no puedes registrarte para una vacuna en tu comunidad porque no tienes acceso a la tecnología, presiona 1 en el teclado de tu teléfono para ser agregado a una lista para recibir una llamada de un miembro del personal de AARP que te ayudará.

 

Nuevamente, si estás escuchando hoy, y no tienes acceso a una computadora o internet y no puedes registrarte para recibir una vacuna debido a eso, presiona 1 para que te agreguen a una lista para recibir una llamada y obtener ayuda. Cuando lo hagas, escucharás un breve mensaje y luego volverás a esta llamada.

 

Ahora es el momento de abordar sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus y las vacunas con la Dra. Lindsey Gottlieb, el Dr. Warren Hebert y la Dra. Virginia Caine. Presionen * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para comunicarse con un miembro del personal de AARP y compartir su pregunta. Ahora me gustaría traer a mi colega de AARP, Jean Setzfand, para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas de hoy. Bienvenida, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: Muchas gracias, Bill. Encantada de estar aquí.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Bueno, ¿de quién es nuestra primera llamada hoy?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra primera llamada es Evelyn de Tennessee.

 

Bill Walsh: Evelyn, bienvenida al programa, sigue adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Evelyn: Gracias. Entiendo que muchos estados han levantado el mandato de usar mascarilla y quiero saber qué piensan sobre esa situación. Voy a seguir usando la mía todo el tiempo que sienta que sea necesario. ¿Qué piensan ustedes al respecto? ¿Creen que es demasiado pronto o creen que esta otra COVID-19, el otro tipo, tendría un efecto negativo? Quiero saber qué piensa AARP al respecto.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, Evelyn, gracias por esa pregunta. Creo que está en la mente de mucha gente. Dra. Gottlieb, usted estaba hablando de este tema. ¿Quiere hablar de ello con Evelyn?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Por supuesto. Sabes, creo que esta fue una decisión difícil para los CDC y no importa cuándo decidieron hacer esos cambios, hubo algunas personas que pensaron que era demasiado pronto y algunas personas que pensaron que era demasiado tarde. Creo que estamos en un punto en el que las tasas de COVID-19 disminuyen constantemente en todo el país, las tasas de hospitalizaciones disminuyen y es importante que las personas puedan reanudar la normalidad y las empresas puedan volver a operaciones normales, pero eso no significa que debamos dejar de lado todas nuestras precauciones de seguridad.

 

Como mencioné, hay algunos lugares donde todavía se nos exige que usemos mascarilla, incluso en la atención médica, en autobuses, metro, trenes, aviones, pero creo que para cada individuo, es comprensible que podamos tomar nuestras propias decisiones sobre dónde seguimos queriendo usar una mascarilla. Si te sientes más cómodo usándola al entrar en la tienda de comestibles, o ya sabes, yendo al salón, creo que es completamente razonable, y la esperanza y la recomendación es que las personas que no estén vacunadas continúen usando mascarilla en todas esas situaciones también.

 

Has hecho referencia a las variantes más nuevas de COVID-19 que están circulando, y la buena noticia es que tenemos evidencia hoy en día de que nuestra vacuna es efectiva contra estas variantes más nuevas, pero por supuesto, si nos relajamos demasiado, y si las personas que no están vacunadas no continúan usando mascarilla y, con suerte se vacunan, entonces es posible que veamos que esos números aumentan nuevamente. Por lo tanto, estas son las recomendaciones por ahora y, con suerte, seguiremos viendo una mejora y podrá seguir así.

 

Bill Walsh: Claro Bueno, Dra. Gottlieb, gracias por eso. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Tenemos una pregunta en Facebook y Phil pregunta: "Tuve COVID-19 a principios de enero del 2021 y, como resultado, no puedo caminar. ¿Qué provisión se ha tomado para vacunar a quienes están confinados en el hogar? ¿Hay alguna disposición para los costos de cuidadores a los confinados a su hogar, si uno está confinado a su hogar debido a la COVID-19?

 

Bill Walsh: Esa es una pregunta interesante, Dr. Hebert, ¿quiere abordarla?

 

Warren Hebert: ¡Absolutamente! Phil, gracias por hacer esa pregunta, y sabes, ciertamente estás en todos nuestros pensamientos relacionados con las experiencias que vives después de haber tenido COVID-19. Con respecto a la vida en casa, trabajo en atención médica domiciliaria y aquellos que tienen dificultades para salir de la casa, muchos de ellos reciben inyecciones en el entorno del hogar, pero, por lejos, la solución más destacada es que a pesar de que las personas califican para la atención médica domiciliaria, porque les es difícil salir, muchos de ellos pueden ir a la farmacia local para inyectarse.

 

De hecho, algunos la consiguen en una tienda de comestibles, muchos de ellos tienen sus proveedores de atención primaria que les administran las vacunas, pero con respecto a recibir una vacuna en el hogar, eso varía en diferentes partes del país. Por lo tanto, averiguar a través de AARP qué está disponible para ti en tu parte del país sería la mejor manera de obtener esa vacuna en casa. Gracias, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por eso. Dra. Caine, no sé si también tenía algo que ofrecerle a Phil.

 

Virginia Caine: Sí, tenemos nuestra División de Servicios Sociales para la Familia de Indiana, que se han contratado con nuestras agencias para personas mayores que puedan tener en sus comunidades locales y se asociaron con el departamento de salud local. Indianapolis Emergency Management, e incluso algunos de nuestros centros comunitarios donde coordinamos la visita al hogar para las personas que no pueden moverse.

 

Y creo que es más fácil para nosotros en Indiana porque hemos buscado en nuestra lista las personas que han estado recibiendo servicios y realmente sabemos que la mayoría de ellos no pueden moverse, pero iremos a su casa a darle la vacuna y volver. Entonces, varía, pero creo que tenemos que preocuparnos más por algunas de nuestras áreas rurales. No hay formas de tener la densidad de servicios que tenemos en las grandes áreas urbanas.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, bueno, gracias Dra. Caine y Phil. Para que lo sepas, es diferente en casi todos los estados. AARP ha creado pautas para cada estado. Si vas a aarp.org/infovacuna, puedes consultar la guía de tu estado y debería haber algunos números gratuitos útiles allí donde puedes hacer preguntas sobre tu situación. Muy bien, Jean, ¿de quién es la próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Stephanie de Tennessee.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola Stephanie, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Stephanie: Sí. Tengo muchas alergias, y dudaba en vacunarme porque mi médico dijo que no quería que lo hiciera, pero fui y obtuve la de Pfizer, la primera inyección porque quería algo de protección, y no quería contagiarme de COVID-19. Pensé que sería lo menos malo, pero he tenido muchas reacciones y no voy a tomar la segunda vacuna. Quiero saber cuánta protección tengo desde la primera inyección.

 

Bill Walsh: Dra. Gottlieb, ¿puede abordar la pregunta de Stephanie?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Claro, tenemos datos para decir que al menos a corto plazo, esa primera inyección en realidad brinda mucha protección y puede ser similar a la protección de las dos dosis, pero hay dos cosas que no sabemos. Uno, ¿una dosis nos protegerá tanto tiempo como lo haría la serie completa de dos dosis? Y dos, ¿también nos protegerá de algunas de las variantes más nuevas que son un poco más desafiantes para prevenir infecciones?

 

Entonces, obviamente, todos tienen que hablar con sus propios médicos cuando hay problemas complicados con alergias y efectos secundarios graves, pero yo, en general, sugiero a las personas que tienen antecedentes de alergias que no solo hablen con su médico de atención primaria, sino que si es posible, un alergólogo también, porque incluso para la mayoría de las personas con antecedentes de alergias, existe una manera de recibir estas vacunas y hacerlo de manera segura.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias. Realmente lo aprecio.

 

Virginia Caine: Bill, ¿puedo?

 

Bill Walsh: Sí. Sí, adelante, Dra. Caine.

 

Virginia Caine: Creo que algunas personas dicen que el rango de eficacia de una vacuna varía entre 50 y 70%, pero creo que la otra cosa que puede considerar, es que si alguna vez contrae la infección de COVID-19, y ella tiene una contraindicación para recibir esa segunda vacuna, tenemos otros tratamientos, como anticuerpos monoclonales. Estos son una especie de anticuerpos artificiales que se pueden administrar, que también pueden extender la inmunidad por un período de aproximadamente 3 meses más o menos, si se infectan, y tienen una versión más leve de COVID-19, evita que se convierta en una etapa más grave. Por lo tanto, debe hablar con su proveedor solo para estar preparada, en caso de que se infecte.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Bien, gracias a nuestros expertos por todas esas respuestas. Y vamos a responder algunas preguntas más en breve, pero quería volver a hablar con nuestros expertos. Anteriormente discutimos cómo las personas varían en sus pensamientos y sentimientos sobre las reuniones con familiares y amigos, Dr. Hebert, ¿qué se hace si un hijo adulto o un miembro de la familia se niega a vacunarse y quiere venir de visita?

 

Warren Hebert: Bill, lamentablemente, esa pregunta debe hacerse en todo el país demasiadas veces en un día normal. He tenido conversaciones como esta con amigos míos que tienen más de 65 años y personas que en ocasiones están inmunodeprimidas. Entonces, lo que muchos de ellos han hecho es hablar con ese hijo adulto y decirle: "Me encantaría tu visita, me preocupa que no hayas recibido una vacuna porque soy mayor y porque tengo una mayor probabilidad de contraer la enfermedad".

 

Por lo tanto, es importante hablar de eso por adelantado. Algunas alternativas podrían ser que, en lugar de tener a ese hijo adulto, si viajan desde otra ciudad para estar contigo en tu casa, podrías sugerirles que consigan una habitación de hotel y que, cuando vengan de visita, pueden reunirse afuera. Eso reduce significativamente el riesgo de que puedan compartir algo contigo.

 

Si es un hijo adulto que vive en la ciudad, nuevamente, visitarlo afuera reduce el riesgo, o tal vez encontrar un restaurante en algún lugar que tenga comida al aire libre. Estas son algunas de las cosas que puedes hacer para reducir la probabilidad, pero la realidad es que nuestra relación con nuestras familias seguirá existiendo después de que controlemos un poco más la COVID-19.

 

Entonces, ciertamente no querrás hacer nada que cause una ruptura a largo plazo entre la familia. Ser amable, gentil, generoso e intentar comprender que, si bien tienes algunas preocupaciones acerca de contraer la enfermedad de esa persona que no está inmunizada, muchas de esas personas que eligen no vacunarse tienen su propia razón para no recibir la vacuna. Entonces, creo que intentar comprender a las personas donde están y amarlas. Ya sabes, como amarías a cualquier miembro de la familia si se siente un poco diferente. Espero que eso ayude, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, gracias, Dr. Hebert. Dra. Caine, me pregunto qué piensa al respecto. ¿Es una buena idea volver a conectar con un miembro de la familia si no está vacunado?

 

Virginia Caine: Creo que siempre es una buena idea volver a conectar, pero estoy de acuerdo con el Dr. Hebert. Depende de cómo se comuniquen y si eres una persona mayor, tu inmunidad no es la misma que si fueras más joven y, debido a las variantes de cepas que existen ahora, tenemos un número significativo de personas que no tienen síntomas, se sienten muy bien, no tienen fiebre y, sin embargo, pueden estar infectadas.

 

O pueden no tener síntomas durante al menos dos días, si es que los desarrollan. Entonces, tengo que decirles a los miembros de mi familia que, puede que estén bien, pero pueden transmitir esa infección a otros miembros sin saberlo al estar infectados. Por lo tanto, creo firmemente que debes tener mucho cuidado al permitir que alguien ingrese a tu hogar porque simplemente hablar normalmente, permitirá que las gotitas respiratorias entren en el aire y pueden permanecer por un tiempo si están dentro de su hogar, y especialmente si no están usando máscaras.

 

Entonces, me encanta la idea de poder comunicarse con ellos al aire libre, reduce significativamente el riesgo o tienes algún tipo de encuentro donde puedes ver la cara de una persona, tal vez en tu teléfono, o lo que sea, como Skype o algo así, pero realmente me preocuparía si hay alguien en el hogar que pueda estar recibiendo quimioterapia, o una persona que haya recibido un trasplante de órganos recientemente, por lo que a veces también depende de quién está dentro del hogar para determinar si deseas la visita de alguien que no esté vacunado.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, bien, buenos puntos, Dra. Caine. Gracias por eso. Dra. Gottlieb, hablemos de los niños por un segundo. Ahora que los CDC recomiendan que los niños de 12 a 15 años de edad se vacunen, ¿los niños no vacunados presentan un mayor riesgo en las actividades familiares en las que los adultos están completamente vacunados? ¿Y cuándo se espera la luz verde para las vacunas para los niños más pequeños?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Sí, muy buenas preguntas y, por supuesto, de las que estamos empezando a escuchar mucho. Entonces, ya sabes, no hay duda de que tener individuos no vacunados, ya sea porque aún no son elegibles para una vacuna o porque son demasiado jóvenes, o simplemente están optando por no recibirla, introduce un mayor riesgo, en comparación con una actividad familiar en la que todo el mundo puede vacunarse.

 

Dicho esto, sabemos que la mayoría de los niños no se enferman tanto cuando se infectan con COVID-19 como los adultos, afortunadamente. Y sabemos que los adultos inmunocompetentes vacunados también tienen muchas menos probabilidades de enfermarse gravemente. Entonces, el riesgo para ese grupo, siempre que no haya nadie que tenga un sistema inmunitario comprometido, sigue siendo relativamente bajo.

 

Dicho esto, una vez que comience a haber varios niños sin vacunar para varios miembros de la familia, la recomendación en ese momento sería: "Bueno, tienes personas no vacunadas, al menos esas personas no vacunadas deberían usar mascarilla". Y puede resultar complicado decir: "Bueno, voy a pedirle a mi niño de 7 años que use mascarilla, pero como adulto no lo haré". Por lo tanto, en particular cuando se pasa el rato en el interior, si va a haber varios niños no vacunados de varias familias, puede valer la pena que todos usen mascarilla, para no pedirle a los niños que hagan algo que los adultos no están haciendo.

 

Y como dijo la Dra. Caine, también pensando en si alguno de los adultos no vacunados está inmunodeprimido, entonces el riesgo de presentar a un niño no vacunado puede ser mayor y usar mascarilla se vuelva más importante. En cuanto a la última pregunta sobre la vacunación de los niños, los estudios ya están en marcha. Como mencionaste, hemos comenzado a vacunar a las edades de 12 a 15 en las últimas semanas y la expectativa es que podamos comenzar con las edades de 2 y más, más adelante en el otoño o principios del invierno, e incluso bebés más pequeños. O a finales de este año o principios del próximo.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias por esa actualización, Dra. Gottlieb. Realmente lo aprecio. Ahora es el momento de abordar más preguntas con la Dra. Lindsey Gottlieb, el Dr. Warren Hebert y la Dra. Virginia Caine. Presiona * 3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de tu teléfono para conectarte con un miembro del personal de AARP. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos ahora en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Heidi de California.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Heidi, bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Heidi: Gracias por atender mi llamada. Mi pregunta es, tengo 71 años y tengo un cuidador. Mi cuidador se niega a recibir la vacuna. Ahora, me puse la vacuna, la Pfizer, ambas inyecciones y me fue bien. Me fue bien, pero esperaba que todos pudieran asegurarse de alguna manera de que el empleador haga que el empleado reciba la vacuna si ingresa a nuestra casa para cuidarnos. No veo, no veo por qué no deberían estar vacunados también.

 

Bill Walsh: Claro

 

Heidi: Me pregunto, ¿es eso descabellado?

 

Bill Walsh: ¡No! No creo que sea descabellado en absoluto, Heidi. Me pregunto has llamado a la agencia de cuidados.

 

Heidi: Puedo llamar a la agencia yo misma. Puedo.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí. Bueno, preguntémosle a uno de nuestros expertos qué harían. Sí, espera y te responderemos. Dr. Hebert, ¿quiere abordar eso?

 

Warren Hebert: Heidi, muchas gracias. Este es un tema realmente importante para que lo discutamos, y usted lo articuló muy, muy bien. Una de las curiosidades con la que estamos lidiando con la COVID-19 y también con nuestras vacunas es que no tenemos un número tan alto de trabajadores de la salud que se vacunen como esperábamos. Teniendo en cuenta esto, una de las cosas en las que espero que pongamos algo de dinero es en echar un vistazo al comportamiento humano. Y en tu caso específico, el hecho de que tu cuidador haya decidido no recibirla, te pone en una situación precaria.

 

Particularmente si te gusta ese cuidador, pero una de las cosas que quizás puedas considerar es pedirle a la empresa un cuidador que haya recibido su vacuna. Esencialmente, lo que eso hace es que le permite al empleador saber que es importante para ti. En mi propia situación, mi hija que tiene 30 años y tiene síndrome de Down, y tiene cuidadores que vienen, estamos insistiendo en que los cuidadores se vacunen.

 

Da la casualidad de que estamos en una situación autodirigida, por lo que no trabajan para empresas, trabajan directamente para nosotros, pero creo que tiene una preocupación válida. Creo que la sugerencia de Bill es buena. Llamar e informar al empleador para que sepa que esto es muy importante para usted y para su propio bienestar.

 

No soy un experto en esta área en particular, estoy seguro de que la Dra. Gottlieb o la Dra. Caine pueden agregar algo más, pero debido a que está completamente vacunada, está mucho más segura de lo que estaría con alguien que no ha recibido vacunas. Entonces, enhorabuena por salir y, de paso, mencionaré que de los mayores de 65 años, el 85% de la población han recibido una sola dosis y el 73% de los mayores de 65 años se han vacunado por completo. Gracias, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias Dr. Hebert. Jean, ¿quién es el siguiente en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestro próximo interlocutor es Thomas de Washington.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Thomas. Bienvenido al programa, continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Thomas: Muchas gracias por atender mi llamada. No oigo bien, así que no dudes en gritar. Eso estará bien. Mi pregunta, bueno, haré una pequeña paráfrasis aquí. Soy miembro de la tribu Choctaw de Oklahoma, que ha vivido en el estado de Washington durante más de 30 años, y tengo muchos amigos aquí, pero nuestra familia ha tenido más de 25 afectados por este asunto de COVID-19, y tenemos una familia numerosa, de costa a costa, y siete han muerto.

 

Bill Walsh: ¡Oh, Dios mío!

 

Thomas: Tengo un amigo de 86 años, de 5'2'', guitarrista, mujeriego, que maneja una camioneta pick-up y jura que es más dañino usar una mascarilla que no usarla, y basa su proclamación por ver la televisión. Entonces, él dice: "Los demócratas, los republicanos". Es como un niño adulto, no tiene la mente clara, afortunadamente, ha recibido las dos dosis, por lo que debería estar bien, pero él es un tipo rebelde y aunque es mayor que yo.

 

Bill Walsh: Entonces, Thomas, estás preguntando sobre el uso de mascarilla y si la gente debería seguir usándola incluso si han sido vacunadas. ¿Es así?

 

Thomas: Muchas gracias por volver a encarrilarme. Sí, así es. Gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por la llamada, Thomas. Dra. Caine, ¿puede responder eso para Thomas?

 

Virginia Caine: Thomas, es un tema difícil el de las mascarillas. En las nuevas pautas que han publicado los CDC se establece que si estás al aire libre, donde el riesgo es mucho, mucho menor, si está trotando o haciendo cualquier tipo de actividad y no hay una gran reunión, no tiene que usar mascarilla y no tiene que tomar distanciamiento social.

 

Pero si está en el interior y él ha sido completamente vacunado, aún puede no requerir una mascarilla y ni tomar distanciamiento social en el interior, excepto en ciertas excepciones. Lo que significa que nunca puedes ingresar a un sistema hospitalario o centro de atención médica, y aunque haya sido completamente vacunado, estas son las excepciones en las que realmente necesitaría usar una mascarilla y cumplir con el distanciamiento social.

 

Si se encuentra en aeropuertos o transporte público como los autobuses Greyhound, los sistemas de tránsito locales, aún necesitará una mascarilla incluso si está vacunado. Las instalaciones correccionales locales, lugares de ese tipo. Pero su capacidad para decir simplemente: "Veo la televisión y sé que la gente no lo transmite", creo que está teniendo una falsa... Cuando tuvimos la epidemia y estaban vacunados, había una falsa sensación y nos dimos cuenta de que la gente estaba transmitiendo la infección a otras personas, cuando no estaba vacunada y no llevaba mascarilla, incluso sin síntomas poder transmitir esa infección.

 

Y digo que, si pueden recordar en abril cuando todo esto comenzó, y en abril podíamos ver la cantidad de sistemas hospitalarios que estaban tan abrumados, tantas personas muriendo en nuestras instalaciones de atención a largo plazo e incluso un número significativo de los trabajadores de la salud murieron cuando no usaban mascarilla, pero la herramienta fundamental es estar completamente vacunados, pero con las excepciones que mencioné.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien. De acuerdo, Dra. Caine, gracias por eso. Tomemos otra pregunta, Jean.

 

Jean Setzfand: La siguiente persona que llama es Olivia de Washington, D.C.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Olivia, sigue adelante con tu pregunta.

 

Olivia: Gracias. Quiero saber, ¿alguien ha pensado en diseñar una vacuna de refuerzo para el sistema inmunitario?

 

Bill Walsh: Pregunta sobre la vacuna de refuerzo, Dra. Gottlieb, ¿puede manejar esa?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Por supuesto. Sí, la respuesta es sí. Nuestras compañías farmacéuticas como Pfizer y Moderna ya están trabajando en dosis de refuerzo para ayudar a estimular nuestro sistema inmunitario. Aún no sabemos con certeza si las necesitaremos y, de ser así, cuándo o con qué frecuencia las necesitaremos, pero queremos tenerlas listas para usar si las necesitamos.

 

Creo que es importante señalar que cuantas más personas podamos vacunarnos ahora, es menos probable que necesitemos más refuerzos en el futuro solo porque cuanto más circula el virus, más posibilidades tiene de mutar y escapar de nuestra vacuna actual. Entonces, independientemente, existe una posibilidad de que necesitemos al menos un refuerzo en algún momento en el futuro, pero más allá de eso está por verse.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dra. Gottlieb, gracias por eso. Un recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, si desean hacer una pregunta, presionen * 3 en el teclado de su teléfono. Jean, ¿a quién tenemos ahora en la línea?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra próxima llamada es Vicky de Texas.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Vicky. Bienvenida al programa. Continúa con tu pregunta.

 

Vicky: Hola, muchas gracias. Estoy completamente vacunada. Tengo un miembro mayor de la familia que no podrá vacunarse debido a varios problemas de salud. Me gustaría ir a visitarla y quedarme con ella en su casa, ¿debo seguir usando mascarilla mientras estoy en su casa con ella?

 

Bill Walsh: Esa es una buena pregunta. Dr. Hebert, ¿tiene alguna idea al respecto?

 

Warren Hebert: Gracias, Vicky y somos vecinos. Yo estoy en Luisiana y tú en Texas. La actividad prudente cada vez que estás con alguien que no ha sido vacunado sería usar mascarilla, el hecho de que estés completamente vacunada, la ciencia que he leído y me interesaría el aporte de la Dra. Gottlieb y la Dra. Caine, la ciencia que he leído es que si uno está completamente vacunado, tiene una probabilidad mucho menor de contagiarse uno, pero aún podrías contagiar a otra persona y esa ciencia ha estado cambiando con tanta frecuencia. Una vez más, espero con interés la opinión de la Dra. Gottlieb o Dra. Caine al respecto. Gracias, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dra. Gottlieb, ¿quiere intervenir rápidamente?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Claro. Sí, Dr. Hebert, tiene razón. Tenemos más datos sobre nuestra capacidad para enfermarnos después de ser vacunados que sobre nuestra capacidad para transmitir la infección. En este momento, sabemos que parece haber un riesgo reducido de transmitir y enfermar a otra persona, incluso si nosotros mismos no somos sintomáticos, pero ese riesgo probablemente no sea cero. Entonces, creo que si vas a estar con alguien que no está vacunado y tiene un alto riesgo de complicaciones, siempre es más seguro usar mascarilla.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí. Muy bien, gracias por eso. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Virginia Caine: Quisiera comentar también.

 

Bill Walsh: Dra. Caine, adelante.

 

Virginia Caine: Es que hemos tenido algunos casos de infecciones trascendentales después de que las personas hayan sido vacunadas. Entonces, nuestras vacunas no son 100% en términos de eficacia. Quizás hubo alrededor del 5% donde las vacunas no mostraban una respuesta de anticuerpos. Entonces, creo, ya sabes, escuchaste sobre los Yankees de Nueva York o alguien, donde todos habían sido vacunados, y tienen algunas reinfecciones. Entonces, creo que a pesar de que esos números son increíblemente pequeños, pero al igual que los dos miembros de nuestro panel, también creo que es prudente usar mascarilla en esos entornos.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias a todos nuestros expertos. Jean, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jean Setzfand: Nuestra última pregunta proviene de YouTube, y tiene dos partes, de Kenny quien pregunta sobre las pruebas de la vacuna. "¿Creen que las vacunas se probaron a fondo? ¿Qué pruebas adicionales se requerirían para que los CDC y la FDA las aprueben, si no fuera por la exención de declaración de emergencia?" Y también, el seguimiento se relacionó con la eficacia de la vacuna contra nuevas cepas. "¿Qué pruebas se están haciendo?"

 

Bill Walsh: Entendido. Dra. Gottlieb, ¿puede manejar esas dos preguntas?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Claro. En lo que respecta a la primera pregunta de qué pruebas se realizaron y qué pruebas adicionales podrían necesitarse, aunque este proceso fue rápido, pasó por todos los pasos normales por los que pasaría cualquier otro estudio de vacunas. Por lo tanto, seguimos analizando la misma cantidad de personas en los ensayos de investigación y buscamos los mismos tipos de resultados.

 

Entonces, en este punto, no hay realmente pruebas adicionales que se deban realizar y, de hecho, es probable que Pfizer solicite ese sello final de aprobación muy pronto y no hay necesariamente datos adicionales que deban ser mostrados. Creo que una de las cosas clave que llevaron a una autorización de uso de emergencia desde el principio, en lugar de un sello final inmediato de aprobación, fue más porque aún no teníamos meses suficientes para hacer un seguimiento de cuánto tiempo funcionarían las vacunas, y en este momento, las estamos viendo trabajar 6 meses, 8 meses, ya sabes, 10 meses después de que esas primeras personas se vacunaron.

 

Entonces, nos estamos acercando al punto en el que es suficiente para la aprobación. En cuanto a lo que estamos haciendo para analizar la eficacia de estas vacunas contra las variantes más nuevas, hay un par de cosas diferentes. Los investigadores están buscando en nuestros laboratorios para tratar de mostrar evidencia de que son eficaces contra de estas variantes más nuevas, pero ahora también tenemos datos solo observando los países donde las variantes más nuevas están circulando más.

 

Entonces, por ejemplo, en la ciudad de Nueva York, esa variante del Reino Unido que recibió mucha atención, es la variante que más circula aquí y, sin embargo, todavía vemos que las vacunas funcionan. Entonces, tenemos datos de laboratorio y datos del mundo real.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Muy bien, pues gracias a todos nuestros expertos. Dra. Gottlieb, quiero hacer un seguimiento de un problema que surgió antes y se trata de la vacilación ante las vacunas y la posibilidad de no alcanzar la inmunidad colectiva. Posiblemente sentar las bases para, ya sabes, nuevas variantes y endémicas. ¿Qué es endémico y qué tan significativo es el riesgo de variantes revolucionarias?

 

Lindsey Gottlieb: Bien. Bueno, creo que este es un tema importante que la gente entienda y, en particular, aquellas personas que todavía están indecisas sobre si deben vacunarse o no. La probabilidad a nuestro ritmo actual es que no alcanzaremos ese punto de inmunidad colectiva. Es decir, no llegaremos al punto en que se vacune a tanta gente, que incluso una persona no vacunada básicamente no tenga ninguna posibilidad de infectarse porque todos los que la rodean están vacunados.

 

Es más probable que esto se convierta como muchos otros virus, que circulan y se vuelven endémicos. Es decir, básicamente, está circulando a niveles bajos en nuestro entorno y, por lo tanto, siempre existe el riesgo de brotes y el riesgo de aumentos estacionales, como vemos que la gripe aumenta todos los años en el invierno.

 

Entonces, creo que algunas personas que no están vacunadas en este momento ven nuestro número decreciente y dicen: "Está bien, tuve suerte. Pasó lo peor y ahora no necesito preocuparme por el futuro porque nuestros números están bajando". La probabilidad es que esos números no bajarán a cero y con un nivel de circulación bajo, seguimos siendo susceptibles a la infección, especialmente si no estamos vacunados.

 

Además, debido a que todos los virus mutan de forma natural, que es el proceso mediante el cual se forman estas variantes más nuevas, más puede circular el virus. Cuantas más personas puedan infectarse, mayor será el riesgo de que surjan nuevas variantes, lo que nos llevará a necesitar más refuerzos en el futuro. Por lo tanto, mientras más vacunas podamos recibir ahora, es menos probable que necesitemos más vacunas en el futuro y menos probabilidades de que los que no estamos vacunados nos enfermemos.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Gracias, Dra. Gottlieb. Dra. Caine, con el impacto dispar del coronavirus entre las comunidades de color, ¿qué estamos haciendo para aumentar el acceso a la vacuna y qué más deberíamos hacer?

 

Virginia Caine: Creo que tenemos que, permítanme decirles que soy la presidenta de National Medical Association. Ese es el grupo de médicos negros más antiguo y más grande del país, que representa a más de 41 estados y tantas áreas metropolitanas y rurales. Tienes que llegar a la gente. Siempre le decimos a la gente que tiene que acudir a nosotros para recibir servicios, pero tenemos que entender cómo movilizarnos y entrar en esas comunidades.

 

Estamos trabajando con muchas vacunas móviles en estas comunidades. Nos estamos asociando con organizaciones religiosas, algunas de nuestras organizaciones cívicas tradicionales, poblaciones latinas, poblaciones afroamericanas negras, estos son los mensajeros de confianza en sus comunidades, ¿sabes?

 

Son los embajadores; se involucran en sus redes sociales con sus amigos y sus compañeros. También estamos, al menos en Indianápolis, otorgando una mini subvención de $1 millón a personas predominantemente de color para que realicen ese alcance educativo comunitario por nosotros, ayudando a las personas a saber dónde están los sitios de vacunación, cómo obtener transporte gratuito de ida y vuelta, relacionado con eso.

 

Tratamos de darles el tipo de educación que disipe los mitos pero también hablar sobre sus desafíos y ayudarlos a abordar esos problemas. Por ejemplo, tuvimos empleadores que cuando los empleados latinos les dijeron que eran positivos y que tenían que ponerse en cuarentena durante 10 días, los despidieron en el acto. Por lo tanto, tenemos que ser capaces de abordar muchos de estos problemas, pero tenemos que tener alianzas fundamentales con las mismas personas a las que queremos llegar, tienen que verse a sí mismos como voceros.

 

Bill Walsh: Gran punto. Gracias, Dra. Caine, y gracias a cada uno de nuestros expertos por responder estas preguntas. Esta ha sido una discusión realmente informativa, y gracias a nuestros socios, voluntarios y oyentes de AARP por participar en esta discusión.

 

AARP, una organización con membresía, sin fines de lucro y no partidista, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores durante más de 60 años. Frente a esta crisis, estamos brindando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan a protegerse del virus y prevenir su propagación a otras personas, mientras se cuidan.

 

Todos los recursos a los que se hizo referencia hoy, incluida una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas, se pueden encontrar en aarp.org/elcoronavirus, a partir de mañana, 21 de mayo. Eso es, aarp.org/coronavirus. Vayan allí si su pregunta no fue respondida, y encontrarán las últimas actualizaciones, así como información creada específicamente para adultos mayores y cuidadores familiares.

 

Esperamos que hayan aprendido algo hoy que pueda ayudarlos a ustedes y a sus seres queridos a mantenerse sanos y salvos. Esta noche, tenemos un evento especial a las 7 p.m. sobre la realidad de la vacuna contra el coronavirus vs. los rumores, y regresaremos el 3 de junio a la 1 p.m., hora del este para otro evento en vivo, donde responderemos sus preguntas sobre el coronavirus. Esperamos que nos acompañen. Gracias, que tengan un buen día. Con esto concluye nuestra llamada.

 

 

Listen to a replay of the live Q&A event above.

While new COVID-19 cases have fallen to their lowest levels since September, many people are still hesitant to get a shot. This live Q&A event addressed your questions and concerns about the vaccines and how to stay safe in public, social and family circles as things begin to open up across the country.

The Experts:

  • Lindsey Gottlieb, MD
    Director of Infection Prevention,
    Mount Sinai Morningside

  • Warren P. Hebert, Jr., DNP, RN
    Nursing Professor, Loyola University of New Orleans,
    CEO, HomeCare Association of Louisiana

  • Virginia Caine, MD
    Director and Chief Medical Officer,
    Marion County (IN) Public Health Department
    Associate Professor of Medicine,
    Indiana University School of Medicine,
    Division of Infectious Diseases

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Replay previous AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

  • October 7Coronavirus: Boosters, Flu Vaccines and Wellness Visits
  • September 23 - Coronavirus: Delta Variant, Boosters & Self Care
  • September 9 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe, Caring for Loved Ones & New Work Realities
  • August 26 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe, New Work Realities & Managing Finances
  • August 12 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe in Changing Times
  • June 24 - The State of LGBTQ Equality in the COVID Era
  • June 17 - Coronavirus: Vaccines And Staying Safe During “Reopening”
  • June 3 - Coronavirus: Your Health, Finances & Housing
  • May 20 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • May 6 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • April 22 - Your Vaccine Questions Answered and Coronavirus: Vaccines and Asian American and Pacific Islanders
  • April 8 - Coronavirus and Latinos: Safety, Protection and Prevention and Vaccines and Caring for Grandkids and Loved Ones
  • April 1Coronavirus and The Black Community: Your Vaccine Questions Answered
  • March 25Coronavirus: The Stimulus, Taxes and Vaccine
  • March 11 - One Year of the Pandemic and Managing Personal Finances and Taxes
  • February 25Coronavirus Vaccines and You
  • February 11 - Coronavirus Vaccines: Your Questions Answered
  • January 28 - Coronavirus: Vaccine Distribution and Protecting Yourself
    & A Virtual World Awaits: Finding Fun, Community and Connections
  • January 14 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying Safe & Coping and Prevention, Vaccines & the Black Community
  • January 7 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Stimulus & Staying Safe
  • Dec 3 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe & Coping This Winter
  • Nov 19 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying and A Caregiver's Thanksgiving
  • Nov 12 - Coronavirus: Coping and Maintaining Your Well-Being
  • Oct 1 - Coronavirus: Vaccines & Coping During the Pandemic
  • Sept 17 - Coronavirus: Prevention, Treatments, Vaccines & Avoiding Scams
  • Sept 3 - Coronavirus: Your Finances, Health & Family (6 months in)
  • Aug 20 - Your Health and Staying Protected
  • Aug 6 - Coronavirus: Answering Your Most Frequent Questions
  • July 23 - Coronavirus: Navigating the New Normal
  • July 16 - The Health and Financial Security of Latinos
  • July 9 - Coronavirus: Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
  • June 18 and 20 - Strengthening Relationships Over Time and  LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
  • June 11 – Coronavirus: Personal Resilience in the New Normal