Four regional doctors talk about Covid-19 vaccine demand, reservations



WNY Refresh asked four primary care doctors across the region about patient reactions to getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

The suburbs

Dr. Adnaan Sheriff, Amherst Medical Associates

About 60% of Sheriff’s patients have been fully vaccinated with 13% having received one of two doses. “About 23% have no known status for the vaccine although I meet patients almost every day who state that they are waiting.” Roughly 4% of patients say they will not get vaccinated.

Q: Main three reasons folks tell you they are waiting?

They want to see long-term effects of the vaccine and that it is too new for their comfort. They don’t trust the science and believe that it is overhyped. They refuse to inject something that is “new” into their body. I usually try to explain that initially I felt the same way, but I read the safety studies that were released last fall that had large sample sizes and were conducted in a sound fashion.

I agree that we don’t know potential long-term effects, but the immediate benefit outweighs the risk of the vaccine. I have had a 35-year-old and 45-year-old patient pass away from the virus in 2021, amongst other individuals throughout the pandemic.

My entire family in the U.S., except the young children, have received the vaccine, including my pregnant wife.

All of my current patients who are getting sick with Covid-19 have not had the vaccine.

Q: What do you tell patients they will be able to do once they are fully vaccinated?

I usually reference the CDC guidelines that are changing regularly. I do let them know that they can now gather in small groups with vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with peace of mind. They also don’t need to quarantine if exposed to someone with Covid-19. They can also travel within the U.S. without needing to test before or quarantine after travel.

I encourage vaccinated individuals to wear a mask and social distance if they are ever unsure whether an environment is safe. The vaccine is not a ticket to take your mask off whenever you feel like it.


The federal pause of the J&J vaccine raised doubts about all Covid-19 vaccines, Dr. Lisa Mendonza says.

Dr. Lisa Mendonza, Kenmore Family Medicine

About 40% of patients have been fully vaccinated and 20% more have received their first dose. About 5% say they are waiting and 25% say the won’t get vaccinated.

“They don’t trust the vaccine, especially after the pause of J&J vaccine,” she said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that 28 people developed a rare blood clot out of 8.7 million given the J&J vaccine and three died. Women under 50 are most at risk. During the same time, according to a CNN report, more than 2.2 million Americans were diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 43,000 died, based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

The city

Dr. Kenyani Davis, chief medical officer, Community Health Center of Buffalo

At least 50% of patients have been fully vaccinated including about 30% of whom received the one-dose J&J vaccine. Almost all others are waiting, including a small percentage of young patients who say they will abstain.

“My response is to educate them on what I know, and what we as a medical community know, and become a sounding board,” Davis said. “And at that time, I’m able to give them factual information and help guide their decisions. What I’ve found is a lot of times, people don’t have the full view.”

She points to “Facebook University” and other social media for adding confusion in already uncertain surroundings, and serving as an echo chamber for those who seek to confirm their suspicions instead of learning from doctors and peer-reviewed research.

Q: What are the main three reasons folks tell you they will not get vaccinated under any circumstances?

Some have an adversarial relationship with health care in general. They just don’t trust it. There are people who engage with the health care system, but this is something new. These are people who just don’t like change.

Then you have another group of people who are creating decisions off of personal experiences. Then you have a fourth group, my young people, who are just invincible.

You have to connect with the “why” for each one of these groups of people. And it’s going to be different for each one. Everyone always asks, “is it facts that you use?” “Is it the tear-jerking stories?” You really have to uncover the root of the “why,” and then create the intervention.

Q: What are the main reasons patients tell you they decided to get vaccinated?

For their health. My younger people wanted to get back to normalcy. A lot of them are already asking me if their information is in New York State’s Excelsior Pass system so they can start traveling.

Q: What do you tell patients they will be able to do once they are fully vaccinated?

Live! One of the most interesting things that happened was a few months ago after I was vaccinated, and more people started getting vaccinated, I saw my patient who is a 76-year-old retired pediatrician. I hugged her and she started crying. And I said, “My gosh, what’s wrong?” And she said, “this is my first hug in a year!” I don’t know we will ever get back to 100%, but to get to some part of that means a lot to people.

The countryside


Dr. Thomas Madejski, General Physician PC, Medina and Albion

About 50% of his patients are fully vaccinated, 30% are waiting and 20% say they won’t get vaccinated. Those hesitant are most likely to say they fear long-term side effects, tend to resist vaccines and have a general mistrust of government and other institutions.

“I acknowledge upfront that I fully respect their right to decline the vaccination,” Madejski said. “Then I try and work on the science and try not to discuss the politics. We do get in discussion sometimes and if you look at voting in Orleans County, we’re a very red state. But eight out of 10 times, I’m able to work through that. I’ve had a couple patients who just say, ‘You know, the whole thing’s a fabrication.’ I think most people don’t really believe that in their heart of hearts. And the ones who truly do I guess just not have been exposed anybody who’s had the illness, which is pretty widespread.


Link to original article. 


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