UNC doctor warns against people who feel 'invulnerable' against COVID-19

In a recent Zoom interview with ABC11, UNC immunologist and epidemiologist Dr. Myron Cohen urged everyone to get a vaccine when it's their time.

"The problem with individual freedom, as it relates to mass and public health, that you're really not just responsible for yourself you're responsible for your neighbor as well," said Cohen as he discussed the luxury of choice Americans have in responding to the virus prevention methods.

"Part of it is that they may feel invulnerable right," he asked. "They may think 'well if I get COVID, I'll be fine.'

Cohen is aware of the medical mistrust within some communities and validates those concerns and believes medical professionals can do a better job at explaining the science.

Others have different reasons which Dr. Cohen calls vaccine hesitancy.

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"I can understand," said Cohen. "If you're not a scientist and you see the speed with which we develop vaccines for COVID, it could make you feel anxious. It's like how can they possibly make something safe and effective so quickly."

Cohen again argues the best bet for everyone is to get vaccinated, which includes children and those who feel especially healthy.

In speaking of people who are going to forego getting vaccinated, Cohen describes the gamble as a 'terrible lottery'.

"It's very predictable that older people with underlying health problems are going to do badly with COVID," he added. "But it's a lottery for younger people....and I mean, 20s 30s 40s who will suffer severe consequences in COVID. And not just hospitalization, but potentially the worst possible outcome. Also long term complications from the infection."

Cohen said there's still a lot to learn and scientists will learn more as time progresses.

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"We can't know everything about these drugs now," Cohen said. "It is true when somebody says, 'Well, do you really know what happens over five years, of course not," he continued. "We only know what happens over six months. So, we're learning as we go. We're building an airplane as we're flying it under very adverse conditions. So we have to be very honest as we as we go forward."
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