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Northwell Health

RN Sandra Lindsay (center) with staff members. Photo from Northwell Health

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot available to frontline health care workers

More than nine months after she became the first American to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Sandra Lindsay, RN, director of nursing critical care at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ), today received a booster shot to increase her immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

RN Sandra Lindsay gets her booster shot. Photo from Northwell Health

Ms. Lindsay enthusiastically held high three fingers moments after Michelle Chester, DNP, director of Northwell Health Employee Health Services, administered the booster shot in front of reporters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an additional shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on September 22 for those 65 and older, individuals at high risk of severe disease and those whose work may lead to frequent exposure to the virus.

“I am delighted to receive the booster today as yet another chapter in the fight against COVID-19,” said Ms. Lindsay, who was honored by President Joe Biden in a White House ceremony and served as grand marshal of NYC’s Hometown Heroes Parade, both in July. “For me, personally, it’s been an incredible journey and a privilege. It’s my belief that if I can change one person’s mind who is hesitating to become vaccinated and help encourage them to follow the science, it’s been a good day.”

Ms. Lindsay became a household name on December 14, 2020, when she was shown receiving the first Pfizer dose in the United States as part of a video conference call with then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Items used as part of her vaccination were donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

On Wednesday, Ms. Lindsay was back in front of cameras, one of five frontline health care workers who publicly received their booster shot. The others were: Yves Duroseau, MD, chief of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and the second American vaccinated; Elyse Isopo, NP, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset; Richard Schwarz, MD, medical director at LIJ; and Andrew Adesman, MD, chief of behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

“We are all so proud of each member of our Northwell family who agreed to participate in getting vaccinated to help us fight the battle of this pandemic,” said David Battinelli, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer. “During this year, we saw the true heroism of each member of our staff – doctors, nurses, therapists, dietary, environmental services – all doing their best to fight this unknown disease, at their own risk. During this last year-and-a-half, we truly saw fear morph into courage. And now, after this most difficult year, we are delighted to be able to offer our team members a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. We urge everyone to follow the science and get their booster shot when they become eligible.”

Northwell Health, the largest health system and private employer in New York State, announced on Monday that its staff is now 100 percent vaccinated, in compliance with New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s mandate that all health care workers be vaccinated.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Mather Hospital’s annual month-long breast cancer awareness community outreach event, Paint Port Pink, kicked off this week in Port Jefferson village. 

Pink lights were lit on Oct. 1 across the village and throughout surrounding communities to honor and raise awareness for breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Several dozen local businesses are participating, adding the sparkling lights to their storefronts, windows and doors. 

Lamp posts along main street in Port Jefferson shine bright pink with the goal to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection, encourage annual mammograms and bring the community together to help fight this disease.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, according to Mather Hospital. In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. 

About 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2021. 

As of January 2021, there were more than 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment. 

Oct. 15 is Wear Pink Day, and people are encouraged to dress themselves — and their pets — in pink and post their photos on social media with #paintportpink. 

Then send those photos to [email protected] they will be included in a collage on the hospital’s Facebook page.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) rallied with health care workers to boycott Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) vaccination deadline, Sept. 27.

Zeldin, who is campaigning for governor, joined other elected officials outside the state building in Hauppauge Monday just hours before health care workers were required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by midnight or risk losing their jobs.

On Monday night, Hochul signed an executive order to significantly expand the eligible workforce and allow additional health care workers to administer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. 

According to the mandate, if health care workers do not receive at least one dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines by the end of day Monday — without a medical exemption or having previously filed for a religious exemption — they will forfeit their jobs. 

The congressman has been vocal over the mandates, locally and nationally. 

“Our health care workers were nothing short of heroic the past 18 months,” Zeldin said. “We shouldn’t be firing these essential workers. We should be thanking them for all they’ve done for our communities.”

Zeldin was calling on Hochul to work with medical facilities and the state’s health care workers to “implement a more reasonable policy that does not violate personal freedoms, fire health care workers who helped us through the pandemic’s worst days, and cause chaos and staffing shortages at hospitals and nursing homes.”

Hochul stated this week that to fill the vacancies in hospitals, she plans to bring in the National Guard and other out-of-state health care workers to replace those who refuse to get vaccinated.

“You’re either vaccinated and can keep your job, or you’re out on the street,” said Zeldin, who is vaccinated.

State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) said he was angered when health care employees were given limited ability to negotiate the vaccine mandate through their unions.

“This isn’t a state of emergency, like a hurricane,” he said. “This is a state of emergency that people get fired, and not going to have unemployment insurance. I am a union leader. This is a disgrace to all Americans.”

According to the state Department of Labor, unvaccinated workers who are terminated from their jobs will not be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. A new Republican-led bill introduced in Albany would restore those jobless benefits.

On Tuesday, the state released data noting the percentage of hospital staff receiving at least one dose was 92% (as of Monday evening) based on preliminary self-reported data. The percentage of fully vaccinated was 85% as of Monday evening, up from 84% on Sept. 22 and 77% on Aug. 24.

 “This new information shows that holding firm on the vaccine mandate for health care workers is simply the right thing to do to protect our vulnerable family members and loved ones from COVID-19,” Hochul said in a statement. “I am pleased to see that health care workers are getting vaccinated to keep New Yorkers safe, and I am continuing to monitor developments and ready to take action to alleviate potential staffing shortage situations in our health care systems.”

Long Island’s three health care providers have already implemented the mandate and are taking action. 

Northwell Health, the state’s largest private employer and health care provider — and which includes Port Jefferson’s Mather Hospital and Huntington Hospital — previously notified all unvaccinated team members that they are no longer in compliance with New York State’s mandate to vaccinate all health care workers by the Sept. 27 deadline.

“Northwell regrets losing any employee under such circumstances, but as health care professionals and members of the largest health care provider in the state, we understand our unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other,” Northwell said in a statement. “We owe it to our staff, our patients and the communities we serve to be 100% vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Catholic Health Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Jason Golbin said in a statement that the provider is “incredibly proud of our staff’s dedication to protecting the health and safety of Long Islanders during the COVID-19 pandemic and are grateful for their heroic efforts over the last 18 months.”

He added, “In keeping with our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our patients, visitors, medical staff and employees, we are complying with the New York State vaccine mandate for all health care workers.”

Golbin said that as of Tuesday, Sept. 28, the vast majority of staff is fully vaccinated with only a few hundred people furloughed from across six hospitals, three nursing facilities, home health care, hospice and other physician practices. 

Stony Brook University officials added Stony Brook medicine has been preparing for New York State’s mandate all healthcare workers get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the deadline. 

As of 8 p.m. on Sept. 28, 94.07% of Stony Brook University Hospital employees have been vaccinated, and this number continues to increase, 134 Stony Brook University Hospital employees are being placed on suspension without pay and will be scheduled to meet with Labor Relations representatives to discuss their circumstances. While awaiting this meeting, they can use vacation or holiday time off. If they continue to elect not to receive the vaccine, they will be terminated in accordance with the NYS DOH order. 

Less than 1% of the hospital’s total employee population are in a probationary employment period and while they are currently suspended without pay, they are still eligible to be vaccinated before their terminations are processed and could still return to work. 

Officials said these numbers are fluid and are expecting further declines.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The 12th annual Village Cup Regatta, a friendly competition between Mather Hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson, set sail Saturday on the Long Island Sound all for a good cause.

Presented by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, the Regatta raised funds for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. 

During the event, held on Sept. 11, the Regatta honored all those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the first responders who answered the call, while members of the hospital and village helped crew boats. The race had three classes based on boat size, and this year, the village won. $104,000 was raised and divided between both the Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation.

Actor, director and local resident Ralph Macchio was again community ambassador for the event. 

Macchio has helped to publicize the important work of the two programs funded by the Regatta for the last nine years. Macchio’s wife, Phyllis, is a nurse practitioner in Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program.

Sandeep Kapoor, MD, AVP of addiction services for Northwell Health Emergency Medicine Services, stopped by Mather Hospital’s Overdose Awareness Day information table Tuesday to chat with Richard Poveromo, LMSW, AVP for Transitions of Care, and Alice Miller, LCSW-R, Director of Mather’s Outpatient Chemical Dependency Program. The table offered information on overdose prevention and how to reverse an opioid overdose using NARCAN. Photo from Mather Hospital

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31, Northwell Health held a system-wide event to provide resources to help prevent future overdoses, as well as recognizing those whose lives have already been cut short by substance use.

The effort included the staffing of tables at 13 Northwell facilities where patients, employees and members of the public could find information about the wide range of services and programs offered by the health system for people struggling with a substance use issue and for concerned relatives, friends and members of the community.

“Awareness and understanding are some of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, assistant vice president of addiction services for Northwell’s emergency medicine service line. “Events like these provide members of our community with the tools they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. And by framing substance use as a medical issue like any other, we help lift the stigma that can close people off from seeking help.”

Mather Hospital had a table in the main lobby beginning at 11 a.m., offering overdose information as well as NARCAN training to reverse an opioid overdose. People in attendance could be trained in the use of naloxone, a medication that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, and after training, they could receive a rescue kit containing the medicine. 

Information was also available on how to access addiction care provided by Northwell and other providers in the community, as well as how to connect with Northwell’s Employee and Family Assistance Program, a free and confidential counseling service available to the health system’s 76,000 employees and family members.

“Our employees are not immune to this crisis and neither are their families,” said Patricia Flynn, assistant vice president of employee wellness at Northwell. “We are committed to providing them the support they need to stay healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally.”

Drug overdose deaths in the United States increased by nearly 30% in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reaching a record level of more than 93,000. Experts point to the extreme stress caused by the pandemic as a likely cause, along with increased difficulty in accessing treatment.

 “Substance misuse and addiction are profound threats to the health of our community, and we can’t allow the focus on COVID-19 to deflect us from our work to prevent and treat their effects,” said Bruce Goldman, LCSW, senior director of behavioral health at Northwell and head of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital, a Northwell behavioral health facility. “Even in the midst of the pandemic, substance use disorders remain one of the primary drivers of misery. We want our patients and our workforce to understand that no matter what their needs, help is available at Northwell.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Town of Brookhaven pools and beaches will now have stations so people can get their SPF.

During a press conference at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai Thursday, July 29, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced that new, free sunscreen stations will start to pop up thanks to a collaboration with Northwell Health.

The touchless applicator stations will release the sunscreen so people can use it before they head to the beach — a reminder as soon as they walk in that it’s there. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“We can’t stress the importance of sunscreen enough,” Bonner said. “You have to start when you’re very young, you have to prevent the burns and prevent the exposure that builds up over time — even if it’s an overcast day.”

Nancy Uzo, vice president for public affairs at Mather Hospital, said that skin cancer affects one in five adults by the time they hit age 70. 

“If you have had five bad sunburns in your lifetime, your risk of developing melanoma goes up substantially,” she said. 

The free sunscreen program was initiated to generate awareness about how sunscreen can make a difference in the spread of skin cancer and melanoma.  

The program was launched by Creative Advertising Concepts which set up the first sunscreen program, in the City of Long Beach with partner Winthrop Hospital, back in 2017. Currently, CAC manages 13 programs with 11 on Long Island and two in Westchester County. 

The sunscreen dispensers are endorsed by IMPACT Melanoma — a national nonprofit dedicated to working to reduce the incidence of melanoma.

Romaine said that when he was young, he never used sunscreen — and it led to skin cancer later on. 

“I’ve had surgery on my arm, surgery on my head, the tip of my nose from skin cancer,” he said. “It is something that happens if you get too much sun exposure. … You’ve got to protect yourself. We have to say ‘no’ to skin cancer.”

Nicole Hoefler, director for cardiac cath services at Mather Hospital in the new cardiac catheterization lab. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s finally here. 

Mather Hospital announced this week its new cardiac catheterization lab is completed and is ready to serve patients — as soon as it receives its final Department of Health inspection and approval in the upcoming weeks.

According to Nursing Director for Cardiac Cath Services Nicole Hoefler, Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson is joining the few places on Long Island in hosting a cardiac catheterization lab to provide less invasive heart-related services to patients who need it. 

“We’re here to basically help prevent serious heart attacks,” Hoefler said. “And prevent heart attacks that might be evolving.”

The labs specialize in using X-ray guided catheters to help open blockages in coronary arteries or repair the heart in minimally invasive procedures. These range from stenting to angioplasty and bypass surgery — that are less traumatic to the body and speed recovery. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Sometimes, if a patient had a positive stress test, they’ll come in here so we can see what’s causing that pain they might have been having,” she noted. “Sometimes they need to have it for surgery clearance, like if they saw something on their EKG.”

The two new state-of-the-art rooms were approved by Northwell Health last year, alongside three other Northwell facilities. Construction began on the new spaces in August 2020, completing and turning over to the clinical staff on April 19. 

By adding the two labs into Mather, Hoefler said they can help save a life.

“Every minute that passes when you’re having a heart attack slows your heart muscle,” she said. “So not having to transfer the patient out, and just bring them in from upstairs will be life changing.”

Both rooms will be able to accommodate approximately 20 patients per day with the 12 hours the labs are open. 

The addition of the more than 3,000 square foot space is just another space that Mather can now provide patients better.

“I think the community just loves Mather,” Hoefler said. “Having this service
is just another reason to come here.”

Photo from Northwell Health

Northwell Health has been named to Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” for the second year in a row, catapulting to 19th from a ranking of 93rd  last year    on the prestigious annual list. The health system is one of nine health care organizations nationwide to make the list and the only one in New York State to be recognized.

Fortune’s top 100 list is based on results from America’s largest ongoing annual workforce study, representing more than 4.1 million employees this year alone. Employees responded to more than 60 statements describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential within the organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Those experiences are analyzed relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. Other factors considered include an assessment of employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas and the effectiveness of their leaders.

With a workforce of more than 76,000 based at 23 hospitals and 830 outpatient facilities throughout New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, Northwell was selected from among thousands of companies nationwide.

Ninety percent of Northwell’s respondents reported being “proud to tell others” where they work and 84 percent said that “taking everything into account, they would say it is a great place to work,” a 2 percent increase from the previous year. The responses given during the ongoing pandemic reflect that Northwell team members feel more supported psychologically and emotionally, believe that Northwell cares about creating a good working environment, and that executive leadership embodies the best of Northwell.

Northwell’s focus on employee health, both emotional and financial were two major factors contributing to the health system’s recognition. For example, recognizing that frontline employees were under immense pressure, the health system created tranquility spaces – using tents outside hospitals during the surge – where behavioral health professionals were available free of charge, as well as chaplaincy services, well-being resources and more. This provided safe and calming environments for employees to reflect, meditate, or pray before or after a shift. The tents have now been replaced with indoor spaces as a permanent feature at Northwell hospitals.

To mitigate the worry many employees had of bringing the coronavirus home to their families, Northwell established partnerships with IHG Hotels, Ronald McDonald House, and various universities to provide housing so employees could physically distance from loved ones. Those who found alternative accommodations outside of this program were reimbursed for their expenses. Northwell also partnered with a transportation company to provide dedicated shuttles, so no one had to worry about potentially infecting other public transit passengers or being infected themselves.

To aid employees with young children the health system offered crisis care reimbursement and a subsidized in-person childcare program for the 2020-2021 school year to help offset financial strain on families. Recognizing the need for additional help, the Northwell Heroes Caregiver Support Fund was created to provide resources to employees who were financially impacted by the pandemic, such as a spouse’s job loss or a family member’s death. To date, the fund has disbursed $1,056,208.

In addition, the health system set up the Northwell Heroes Memorial Fund to support the families of employees who died from COVID-19, including help with funeral expenses, memorials, and other related expenses. The fund has raised more than $323,000 to cover salary and benefits that affected families continue to receive.

On December 14, 2020, Northwell was the first health system in the United States to immunize its frontline workers against COVID-19, and has continued to roll out its vaccination efforts to team members . Recently, Northwell established an enhanced program for family members of employees to assist in coordinating vaccine appointments. And while Northwell is focused on protecting team members, we’re also at the forefront of the vaccination effort throughout our communities with partnerships with county agencies, other health care providers, and community and faith-based organizations being sure the vaccine is reaching as many as possible.

Northwell’s Best Companies to Work For recognition comes on the heels of the health system being named to Fortune’s Best Workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma list, earning the No. 2 spot for the category of large health care organization.

To learn more about the exciting career opportunities at Northwell Health, go to: https://jobs.northwell.edu/

Long Island Jewish Medical Center nurse Sandra Lindsay’s historic first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now be part of National Museum of American History Collections

When Northwell Health nurse manager Sandra Lindsay received the first injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last December, the nation tuned in to watch a turning point in the pandemic. That milestone moment turned out to be historic. Northwell today announced that the items used as part of the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine in the United States have been donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where they will join the museum’s medical collection.

Northwell donated materials documenting the first doses, which took place on December 14, 2020, at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center, as well as objects related to vaccine distribution and efforts to encourage the vaccination of frontline health care staff. The donation includes the now empty Pfizer-BioNTech vial that contained the first doses of approved vaccine administered in the U.S., Ms. Lindsay’s original vaccination record card along with her scrubs worn at the event and employee identification badge. Ms. Lindsay, director of critical care services at the hard-hit hospital, was the first person known to receive the vaccine. 

“December 14 was a historic moment for all: the day the very first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the United States,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “It was our first real sign of hope after so many dark months in the fight against the global pandemic. Northwell was prepared to put shots in arms as soon as the vaccine arrived, not to make history but to protect our frontline workers battling COVID-19 as quickly as possible. But when Sandra Lindsay rolled up her sleeve, we weren’t just showing our team members the safety and efficacy of this groundbreaking vaccine – we were telling the world that our country was beginning a new fight back to normalcy. It was an extraordinary moment, and I thank the Smithsonian for preserving this important milestone.”

As New York State’s largest health system, no provider handled more COVID-positive patients and LIJ stood at the epicenter of the first surge in March and April. Ms. Lindsay was one of thousands of frontline workers who heroically soldiered on and saved countless lives despite personal fears and an unending caseload.

“Having lived through the devastation and suffering created by the virus, I knew I wanted to be part of the solution to put an end to COVID-19,” said Ms. Lindsay. “I hope that when people visit the museum and see all these items that they stop to honor the lives of people who did not make it and remember the loved ones they left behind. I hope it will inspire some discussion and education for future generations.”

In April 2020, the museum formed a rapid-response collecting task force to address the COVID-19 pandemic and document the scientific and medical events as well as the effects and responses in the areas of business, work, politics and culture. Due to health and safety protocols, the museum is only able to bring in a limited number of artifacts into the building. Additional artifacts related to the pandemic will be brought in and processed when the museum returns to full operation.

The Northwell acquisition includes additional vials from doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines administered at Northwell, as well as the supplies needed to prepare, inject and track the vaccinations, such as diluent, syringes and vaccination-record cards. Northwell also donated shipping materials that document the enormous effort required to support vaccine distribution and preserve vaccine potency, such as a specialized vaccine “shipper” that monitors and maintains temperature.

“The urgent need for effective vaccines in the U.S. was met with unprecedented speed and emergency review and approval,” saidAnthea M. Hartig, Ph.D, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “These now historic artifacts document not only this remarkable scientific progress but represent the hope offered to millions living through the cascading crises brought forth by COVID-19.”

Northwell’s donation joins the museum’s medicine and science collections that represent nearly all aspects of health and medical practice. Highlights include a penicillin mold from Alexander Fleming’s experiments, Jonas Salk’s original polio vaccine, early genetically engineered drugs and an 1890s drugstore. The museum is working on a signature 3,500-square-foot exhibition, “In Sickness and in Health,” that will explore efforts to contain, control and cure illnesses over the centuries, thereby shaping the nation’s history. The exhibition will feature artifacts from 19th-century vaccination tools and diagnostic instruments to cardiac implants, imaging technologies and objects from the global smallpox eradication campaign and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the museum’s resources related to vaccines and the role of antibodies is a website, “The Antibody Initiative,” and a March 2 virtual program with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci was presented with the museum’s signature honor, the Great Americans medal, and donated his personal 3D model of the SARS-CoV-2 virion to help represent his pandemic work in the national collections. The program featuring a conversation with Smithsonian Regent David M. Rubenstein can be accessed at https://greatamericans.si.edu.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. All Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.  For more information, visithttp://americanhistory.si.edu.

The museum’s staff also canvassed the nation, asking what it should collect to document this pandemic. The public can continue to make suggestions at [email protected] and share their Stories of 2020 at a site that will serve as a digital time capsule for future generations. The portal, open through April, will accept stories in English or Spanish and photos or short video.

Photos courtesy of Northwell Health

 

Adrian Popp, chair of Infection Control at Huntington Hospital/ Northwell Health and associate professor of Medicine at Hofstra School of Medicine, spoke with TBR News Media newspapers to discuss vaccinations and COVID-19. Please find below an abridged and edited version of the discussion.

TBR: Why do some people have a stronger reaction to a second shot?

POPP: These two vaccines are very well tolerated. Yes, there are some side effects after getting the shots. Indeed, even in the trials, it has been shown that the second shot is sometimes more prone to have side effects. There is pain, tenderness at the site of the shot. Sometimes people can get fatigue, fever and even a chill. It is rare to have something more severe than that … From my experience, most people tolerate them well, including the second shot.

TBR: Should people try to take at least a day off, if they can, after the second shot?

POPP: That is not necessarily unreasonable. A lot of my colleagues did take the shot later in the afternoon and then go home and rest for the evening. If you can afford to have a day off the next day, that’s probably not unreasonable.

TBR: Does having the vaccine free people up to interact with others?

POPP: What we know from the Moderna and Pfizer trials is that the effectiveness of the vaccination is 95 percent to prevent symptomatic disease … Can a vaccinated person develop a light form [of the disease]? In theory, yes. There are not completely safe in [not] transmitting the disease to someone else.

TBR: Have the Black and brown communities, which have been somewhat resistant to taking the vaccine, been included in the clinical studies?

POPP: Those studies with Pfizer and Moderna included these populations. They are well represented in these studies. There’s no significant difference in the side effects in African Americans, or less efficacy in the Black and brown communities …. [The Black and brown communities] should feel comfortable that it’s as safe or as efficacious as it is in a Caucasian person.

TBR: Have people from the Huntington Hospital or Northwell community asked you about the safety of taking the vaccine?

POPP: I do have conversations like this every day with different members of Huntington Hospital [as well as] the community at large … I bring up one very recent study that will probably help in kind of showing a few things. I’m going to bring in Israel, a smaller country with a centralized health care system that has been very good in vaccinating people …. More than 50 percent of their population has received the COVID vaccination. Specifically, the senior population, 65 and above, has received the vaccine in percentages even higher … In a study in the New England Journal of Medicine of more than 600,000 people who received the vaccine, [they] compared the incidence of COVID without the vaccine. They found the protection is more than 90 percent … That tells us the vaccine is very effective.

TBR: What do you hear about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

POPP: The best thing about the [J&J] vaccine is that it’s only one shot and the second thing is that it can be stored at normal temperature compared to the other vaccinations [which require deep freezing] … That allows it to be distributed more easily … It will probably be a good vaccine as well.

TBR: After the shots, what is the immunity?

POPP: After the first shot, approximately a week or two weeks after the first shot, you develop quite a significant level of antibodies. There is a certain amount of protection. With the second shot, the level of antibodies shoots up probably 10 times higher than after the initial shot … Full immunity is one week after you receive the second shot.

TBR: Some reports suggest that people who have COVID and develop antibodies may only need one shot. Is that true?

POPP: There are infectious disease experts looking into this. We do know that after getting COVID, you do develop a certain level of antibodies … That varies widely from person to person … The jury is still out on this one. Truly, we have to look at it in a more scientific way. We’ll find out if this will be an option down the road. At this point, as the recommendation stands, you do have to get both shots, even if you had COVID disease before.

TBR: Do we know more about why one person gets very sick and another has only mild symptoms?

POPP: Up to 50 percent of people who get COVID are either asymptomatic or have really minor symptoms. There are risk factors for developing a serious disease. We know that obesity, hypertension, diabetes and specifically certain immunocompromised conditions are risk factors for more serious disease. I have seen older people in their 90s who do have a mild form of the disease, then I’ve seen somebody in his 40s who has very severe disease … There is no real good way of saying who will develop a more severe disease versus somebody else who will have a milder form.

TBR: What about the aftereffects of COVID?

POPP: I have seen quite a few cases of people who … develop quite severe symptoms. On the milder end, people have a loss of taste and smell. This can last for some time … From my experience, most people will recover from this. On the other hand, people with more severe illness, people who get hospitalized, I have to say that the virus can take a significant toll on that person. I have seen patients who have lost 20 to 40 pounds over a period of a month or a month and a half … Recovering from such a hit of being sick for such a prolonged period of time takes a toll on people. Some patients also develop some degree of cognitive impairment.

TBR: What keeps you up at night?

POPP: Even though [the infection rate] is coming down in New York, it is still not insignificant. It’s still an issue. Until we get … a significant number of our population vaccinated, we’re still going to be in trouble … The only way we can stop the whole thing is by vaccinating as many people as we can.