Doctor says people with certain chronic diseases should speak with healthcare professionals before getting vaccine

KNWA

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The CDC has issued new COVID-19 vaccination guidance, qualifying some with preexisting conditions to get vaccinated. Some said they will seek out more information before potentially putting their health at risk by getting the shots.

Jeff Hagers is a teacher in Rogers, and he’s lived with primary progressive multiple sclerosis since 1997. During the pandemic, he’s been extremely careful considering his higher risk.

“It’s an autoimmune disease, meaning my body attacks itself,” Hagers said. “I don’t get out of the house much.”

When Hagers learned vaccine distribution was imminent, he thought the way many Americans do.

“At first, my thought was I’ll get the vaccine right away,” Hagers said.

Hagers takes immunosuppressant medicine for his condition, and an over-suppressed immune system can develop serious diseases. So, he has further questions for health experts before taking the vaccine.

“I wanna be very careful that I don’t combine a vaccine that’s supposed to suppress a virus, combine that with the medications that I’m taking,” Hagers said.

Dr. Gary Berner is the Chief Medical Officer for Community Clinic, and he said the vaccine has been proven safe overall.

“They have very, very well been able to test this vaccine with many of our most common disease conditions,” Berner said.

Still, with some rarer diseases, Berner said there’s more left to determine.

“Right now, early in this vaccination process, there are some unknowns,” Berner said. “They haven’t had the chance to test this vaccine with every disease condition.”

Those who have those conditions will have to weigh whether it’s riskier to get the vaccine or stay more susceptible to the virus, Berner said, and it’s important they rely on medical experts to help them make that determination.

“For those folks, they really need to reach out, reach out now to their specialists, to their primary care medical team,” Berner said.

Hagers said he’s going to contact two specialists, but he’s determined to get the vaccine.

“I’m a case where I just need to be cautious, but I desperately want to have a vaccine,” Hagers said. “People with MS really can’t get sick.”

Knowing the importance of vaccines, Hagers said he’ll find a safe way to protect himself when the time comes.

“I’m going to have it,” Hagers said. “I’m just going to make sure that I’m getting the right one.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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