Now that the coronavirus vaccine is in New Jersey, I asked on my New Jersey 101.5 radio show if you'd be willing to take them to hopefully bring an end to this pandemic.

As our own Senior Political Director Eric Scott cited in his post on, "In order to end the pandemic and return to some sense of normalcy, national health officials say we need 75% of the adult population to be vaccinated. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal of 70%."

The answers of course were mixed, with many worried about the newness of the vaccines.

Dr. Anil Rengen is an oncologist who happened to call into my show Wednesday night, and said that he was getting the vaccine that day at work, and he's doing it "for everyone else around me."

"I work with cancer patients and everything we do is based on clinical trials," Dr. Rengen said to me when he called in. "The type of clinical trials that were done with this vaccine are on scales that we don't even see in oncology in the 10s of thousands of patients. That's kind of unheard of in our field."

Rengen researched the effort that went into the development of the vaccine through an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

"If it's hard for people who are really not immersed in the field to appreciate the amount of effort that went into conducting these trials really on a big scale," he said.

He went on to say, "The way that these trials are run, there's a lot of blindness to the advocacy or how well the drug works, There is a lot of safety measures that are put into place including groups that all they do is really monitor for side effects. They have no bearing on whether the drug works or not."

"So a lot of what the patients report go through this kind of intermediary group and they report all the side effects, they don't have a conflict of interest they don't know who's getting the vaccine and who's not."

I asked Rengen, what side effects has he read about?

"In terms of local irritation, fatigue, maybe some chills – these are to be expected and kind of effective with any sort of vaccine really," the doctor said. "The kind of side effects that people really get concerned about are the Bell's Palsy that people hear about associated with the trial."

Bell's Palsy?

"What's important to note, I think it was about 4 patients that reported Bell's Palsy during the course of the trial, out of I think about 26,000 patients. That incident is actually the same that you see annually in the United States, which is about 20 in 100,000 or so. The rate is basically .02% which is the same exact rate in the trial."

"So whether or not it's due to the vaccine or whether it's just due to chance, it's hard to tell. It's not any greater than what we see in the just the normal people without the vaccine on a day to day basis."

Will there be any other shoes to drop as far as side effects in the future?

"When we talk about vaccines, maybe what we're looking at really is some preservatives in the formula, but really the active ingredient is the mRNA and the way that works is just to make your body create that protein that the COVID vaccine has on it's surface to allow your body to recognize that it's foreign. It's not going to give you COVID but it's mounting that same effect as though you were infected with the vaccine."

"That's the only active ingredient. We don't know about the allergies. People with severe allergies were not included in those studies so it's hard to tell what they're reaction will be but we'll know over time."

While Rengen says it may be a valid concerns over time for those with severe allergies, he also said. "In terms of the active ingredient mRNA we know how that works."

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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