Dr. Rajeev Fernando is one of New York's top infectious disease specialists, and this week, he answers your COVID-19 questions, one about any possible long-term effects of the vaccine.

When you need to know what's happening with the coronavirus, join KICKS 105.5 every Thursday morning. Dr. Rajeev Fernando answers your COVID-19 questions.

Elizabeth in New Milford says she is definitely getting the vaccine when she's eligible. Should I be concerned about long term side effects since the vaccine was developed so quickly?

"That is definitely a concern of mine as well. It's virtually impossible to predict the long term side effects since the vaccine was developed so quickly. I do share your concern, it was a short trial, we know it works well, but I'm equally concerned. I think everything is going to be a risk versus benefits situation. It's basically how much your at risk right now to actually get the vaccine. Unfortunately, we'll just have to wait for more long term data. The initial data is that the vaccine is very well tolerated, just some fever, body pain, at the site of injection people have had some muscle pain, but pretty well tolerated. But I want to stress again that we do need more data on this."

So that's basically why these vaccines take so long to come out, right? It's the long term effects that they have to study, correct?

"Yes, you are correct. I mentioned this before about a week ago, the previous fastest vaccine was the mumps vaccine which took four years to be licensed. It's very early, but we know the results of this COVID-19 vaccine are phenomenal, like a 95% efficacy, which protects people, and that's fantastic. But yes, we do need more long term data on the overall side effects over a longer period of time. I just want to remind everyone who is getting the vaccine to still wear a mask, it's very important. The vaccine was tested for how it will provide safety, but it's not been tested for transmission. After getting the vaccine, you can very well be protected from getting severe disease, but you can still transmit the virus, so it's very important to still wear your mask."

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