‘They are safe and effective’: President and CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital encourages COVID-19 vaccination | TheUnion.com

‘They are safe and effective’: President and CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital encourages COVID-19 vaccination

Dr. Brian Evans said he has been working to decrease the confusion around COVID-19 vaccines through both one-on-one conversations and formal town halls for hospital staff on the science of the vaccines.

“The vaccines have been studied thoroughly at this point, they are safe and effective, and we should encourage them,“ said Evans, president and CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

He attributed some public apprehension about COVID-19 vaccines to misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, which have spread through social media.

The accelerated timeline of COVID-19 vaccine development is a common concern among those apprehensive to take the vaccine.

“The science of mRNA vaccines has been going on for well over a decade, so the research and the science behind these vaccines isn’t new and wasn’t rushed.”

The generally lengthy vaccine development process was completed quicker than usual because many of the processes were done in parallel rather than in series, he explained.

“What happened after COVID-19 developed is that there was an enormous amount of focus and financial support to developing vaccines quickly,” said Evans. “But, the science is very solid and there were no steps that were skipped.”

One of the most important things at this time, said Evans, is to ensure all reading and decision making on scientific issues is done based on “a reliable, accurate, non-biased source, which is generally not going to be in the comment section on social media.”

“When you look at the actual research studies, the trials that were done for Moderna and Pfizer, they were very large, very well done studies, and the results of them are extremely reassuring,” said Evans.

He added that he is hopeful a vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson — a one-dose vaccine with less stringent cold-storage requirements — would produce trial results allowing it to become a viable option as well, as it would be easier to manage logistically.

Describing each individual’s choice as between “the relatively low risk of the vaccine and the more significant risk of not being vaccinated,” Evans emphasized that vaccination is the way forward for the community.

“If we can get our community vaccinated at a high rate, then we can reopen and get back to some semblance of normal life, so I’m a strong proponent of vaccinating the population at the highest levels possible,” said Evans.


Seventy percent of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital staff and associated physicians have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and many have received both doses, Evans said Thursday.

He said the number of people who have declined to be vaccinated was “relatively small,” around 5%.

Evans described the side effects observed as staff vaccination continues as “generally speaking, pretty mild,” including chills or fatigue.

He said some people have had a fever and taken a day off, in particular the day after their second vaccine dose, but added that these fevers typically have resolved within that day and it hasn’t happened to an extent which would impact staffing significantly.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.


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