Gazette-9News panel 050821

The panel for The Denver Gazette/9News panel on vaccinations and herd immunity, from left: Dr. Emily Bates, Dr. Ross Kedl, Dr. Lisa Miller, Dr. Kweku Hazel

Is it safe?

After a year worrying about that question rather intensely, we’re getting ever closer to an affirmative answer. But our rapid mobilization on vaccines — and simultaneous reopening of schools, restaurants and workplaces — is a complex dance, raising a blizzard of fresh questions as we zero in on answering that primary one.

And now is the time to really pay attention. Science shows we’re all likely to push harder and take more risks the closer we are to the finish line.

More than 2 million Coloradans have been fully vaccinated now, which is 43.8% of the eligible population. We’re hearing from state health officials that the ultimate goal is 70% vaccinated, which would give us “herd immunity,” the threshold when most of the population is immune to COVID-19, providing indirect protection to those who are not immune. 

But will we reach herd immunity in Colorado? What if we don’t? Can it still be safe?

Is herd immunity even the right metric to measure how safe we are? 

And what about our kids; is it safe for them? Is it necessary to vaccinate kids? Are there risks?

The Denver Gazette and 9News are teaming up to try to answer these homestretch questions as we get closer and closer to a return to normalcy. We’ve assembled a panel of some of the best health experts in the state to provide you with the best information available.

You can sign up at denvergazette.com/community and submit a question, and we’ll send you a link to join the live Zoom conversation at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Our experts are:

• Dr. Emily Bates, Professor of Pediatrics, CU School of Medicine. Dr. Bates earned her Ph.D from Harvard Medical School and has given numerous presentations answering questions about the Covid-19 vaccines through schools, churches, and the Denver Public Library. 

• Dr. Ross Kedl, Professor of Immunology and Microbiology, CU School of Medicine. Kedl was one of the participants in trials for the Moderna vaccine.

• Dr. Lisa Miller, Professor of Epidemiology, Director of the Preventive Medicine Residency Program, and the Associate Dean for Public Health Practice at the Colorado School of Public Health. At one time Miller oversaw communicable disease surveillance and control activities for the state of Colorado.

• Dr. Kweku Hazel, Surgical Fellow at CU Anschutz, works with African American and Latino communities on vaccine equity and vaccine distribution.

Channel 9’s director of reporting, Chris Vanderveen, and I will moderate the panel.

Some of the questions these panelists plan to address are:

• If I am vaccinated, am I safe to do whatever I want?

• What are the biggest obstacles for people getting vaccinated now?

• How concerned should we be about side effects of some of the vaccines?

• How do my personal decisions about vaccination affect my community?

• How does immunity compare if someone has recovered from COVID vs. someone who is vaccinated?

• Many young women who may be trying to get pregnant or start a family are worried about getting vaccinated. Will vaccines impair fertility?

• Are vaccines riskier or harder to get for different ethnic groups?

• Will we have to get more shots in the future even if we did get vaccinated now?

Journalism at its best convenes our community around our most important community issues, and then tries to answer its most urgent, vital questions with the best sources of information available.

Questions like: Is it safe?

We hope you'll join us Wednesday as we fight through the final stages of this pandemic together.

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