UNCW holds information session on COVID-19 as case numbers climb

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A virtual discussion on COVID-19 was held with UNCW faculty and staff on Thursday, featuring a professor from UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. David Weber is Medical Director of UNC Hospitals’ Department of Hospital Epidemiology. One topic he discussed was the effectiveness of masks and social distancing in the classroom.

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“The risk to me at being in the university is not what happens in the classroom and not what’s happening on campus,” Weber said. “It’s what all of us are going to do, faculty, staff, and students, when we leave the campus.”

According to UNCW’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 550 cases among students, and 12 cases among faculty and staff.

In an email sent to all students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday, Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli shared the results of a vaccination survey. According to the results, 71% of residential students and 85% of faculty and staff are vaccinated. Among off-campus students taking on-campus classes, the vaccination rate is just 53%.

During the virtual session, Dr. Weber tried to dispel some myths surrounding the vaccine. He explained serious side effects are rare.

“Inflammation of the heart, myocarditis or bleeding problems that have been described, again the frequency of those is similar to other rare side effects with other vaccines,” Weber said. “They occur in the range depending on the side effect from one in tens of thousands to one in hundreds of thousands.”

He also addressed rumors that the vaccine could affect fertility.

“Neither this vaccine or any other vaccine has any evidence of fertility problems,” Weber said. “And of course, the Pfizer vaccine as you know was just FDA approved, which means it had to go through the usual hamster, rabbit, dog testing for fertility.”

Dr. Weber compares the risk versus reward of getting the vaccine to wearing a seatbelt when driving.

“The seatbelt jammed and he drowned. Has that occurred? The answer is yes,” he said. “But for every person that has occurred on, the seat belt has saved another 1-5,000 people, and it’s the same thing true with vaccines.”

Dr. Weber also says vaccine manufacturers could end up making a vaccine booster shot to specifically combat the delta variant.