On Thursday, May 6, York Hospital hosted a community webinar addressing all things COVID-19, from the virus to the vaccine. The presentation included concerns and questions encountered by hospital physicians during the pandemic. Evangeline Thibodeau, MD, MPH, Infectious Diseases Physician, Infection Control Committee Chair, and Director of Immunization & Travel Services at York Hospital, shared the latest data, along with expert advice from a panel of York Hospital physicians, to help all who attended process an unending flow of information. Panel members included:  Todd Adams, MD, lead physician of York Hospital provider organization and internal medicine physician; Jennifer Cutts, MD, chief medical officer; Michael Vinograd, MD, MS, chief of pediatrics; and Gretchen Volpe, MD, MPH, infectious diseases and immunization & travel physician.

The program included strategies to fight a pandemic, herd immunity, COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States and the reasons we vaccinate. Common concerns and questions from the attendees were discussed, rounding out the event.

Dr. Thibodeau urged the audience to focus on their own surroundings, supplying up-to-the-minute data for all. She pointed out that while the day’s positivity rate in Maine was 2.6%, the rate for York County was 4.3%. She urged all to look at the history and note if numbers are trending up or down. Additionally, she suggested that everyone assess their own risk and those around them. Is there high risk for disease? Anyone working at “essential jobs,”? How many people do you interact with outside of your home? Herd Immunity was a popular topic, explaining that vaccination reduces the number of opportunities the virus has to infect and further replicate, and also hinders the development of variants.  However, it relies on the majority to participate and vaccinate in order to be effective.

The only vaccines available to US residents, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were analyzed and explained, from how the vaccine is delivered (mRNA versus adenovirus), to the efficacy and side effects of each. Breakthrough infections (contracting the virus after being vaccinated), occurred at a very low rate in Maine in some studies. Efficacy for all three was found to be nearly 100% at preventing hospitalization and death; the goal for all vaccines.

Dr. Thibodeau also shared the following reasons we vaccinate:

    • Decrease personal risk
    • Public health – decrease risk of others who may be at a higher risk than our own
    • Hospital impact – to help flatten the curve and help prevent our health care systems from becoming overwhelmed, then requiring a shift of focus and resources from other health care priorities to COVID care
    • Economic toll – on industries from your local diner and dentist, the worldwide furniture market to sports arenas and performing arts

Interest peaked and the panel joined the discussion as “Common Patient Concerns” were addressed, to determine fact vs. fiction on topics such as:

    • How is COVID different from the flu?
    • I am not at high risk for the virus
    • I’ve already had COVID
    • Maine has low rates
    • The vaccine causes infertility
    • Should my kids be vaccinated?

Would you like to learn more about these and other concerns? ”VACCINATION QUESTIONS?  Ask York Hospital’s Experts”  is now available for viewing on the York Hospital YouTube channel:

If you have plans to travel and require immunization information, please call 207-351-3530 to schedule an appointment.