Dr. LaTanya Hines has been very busy lately, not just with her OB-GYN practice at Kaiser Permanente; and not just with her work on the advisory committee at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine Equity, Inclusion and Diversity; But also on national and local billboards, radio and television, touting the benefits of the covid vaccine.
“I’ve been on channel everything,” she told viewers on a recent zoom call hosted by her hospital and the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC). “I don’t make recommendations for something I wouldn’t do. I got vaccinated on December 18, the first week it was available.”
Hines admitted that she was scared, but after what she had seen in the emergency room, the operating room, and the intensive care unit, she had no questions about making her choice. She had taken care of three pregnant patients who died before vaccines were available.
A graduate of UCLA and the UC Irvine School of Medicine, Hines completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residence at LA County King/Drew Medical Center. She decided to become a physician at the age of eight after her mother had a stroke. Hines has since vowed to be an advocate for good health and recently that has included debunking the myths surrounding the covid vaccine.
More than one-third of the nation has now been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There are minuscule numbers of people who got infected after they got the vaccine,” Hines said. “Ninety-five percent of the time it works well and not one of those patients have died.”
Even though infection rates have gone down considerably recently, Hines said that there are still people in the nation who are positive for COVID-19 and even those who have been vaccinated should not let their guard down. Social distancing and washing hands are still important tactics to limit the spread of the virus.
“It may be possible for you to get COVID-19 again even if you had it before,” she said. “Can we make a difference? Yes.”
She stressed that Kaiser is now authorized to vaccinate children between 12 and 16 years of age. Like vaccinated adults, they may suffer some short-term side effects that may resemble flu symptoms. Pain-relieving, over-the-counter medications can help those.
“They are side effects, not illnesses,” Hines said, explaining that the vaccine does not include the virus. It includes a protein. Reactions, such as soreness at the injection site and feeling tired are a sign that the body’s system is responding to the vaccine and building immunity. “The mRNA vaccine teaches your cells how to make a protein that will help your body build immunity and protect you from the virus.”
There have been so many falsehoods circulated about the COVID-19 shot, Hines stressed. In reality, no microchips are involved, there are no tracking mechanisms, no personal information will be gathered and nothing can alter an individual’s DNA.
Hines noted that the vaccine was developed quickly because federal agencies and companies worked all at the same time on all of the necessary steps to develop, test, and manufacture the vaccine, instead of working individually. No steps were skipped in vaccine development.
Doubters, though they hesitate to take the shot, do not hesitate to visit the emergency room when they feel sick, she mentioned. They do have some trust in the healthcare system.
Hines recommends that doubters do their research and she stressed her personal belief, as a physician, that the vaccine is bringing us closer to the life we used to lead before the pandemic.
“Nothing about medicine is 100 percent,” Hines said. “Nothing is perfect, but doing nothing is unacceptable.”