After 25 years in practice, Lisa DiMedio, DO, FACP, a board-certified physician in internal medicine at Jefferson Health – New Jersey, has come to care for her patients as if they were family members. In fact, she jokes that if she retired tomorrow, she would still be in regular contact with them, urging healthy practices and making sure they stay on track with their wellness.
It is that level of commitment that makes her so passionate about setting the record straight on COVID-19 vaccines. When the vaccines first rolled out last winter, it was a moment of great hope in the medical community and across the country. But no one could have predicted just how divisive the topic would become and the resistance that would arise. But Dr. DiMedio makes a point to listen to her patients’ concerns about vaccines and provide as much insight as she can.
“I make it a conversation with them,” she says. “I never say, ‘You must get the vaccine.’ For the people who are not getting the vaccine, I always like to find out why they are not, and for the people who are getting it, I like to find out why they are. I believe it is important, because we have to stop the spread and boost everyone’s immunity.”
In addition to its three South Jersey hospitals in Cherry Hill, Stratford and Washington Township, Jefferson Health – New Jersey has more than 40 primary and specialty care practices in the area. Dr. DiMedio sees patients at Jefferson Health Fish Pond Primary & Specialty Care, a medical practice in Washington Township that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
Suburban Family spoke with Dr. DiMedio to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and to debunk some of the myths that have spread.
Are you still receiving pushback from patients who do not wish to receive the vaccine?
Unfortunately, we’re now at the point where some people have gotten the vaccine and gotten the booster and they’re still getting sick, so it’s an even harder sell for those who haven’t gotten the vaccine. But those people are not getting as sick, and that’s the biggest ‘sell’ I tell my patients.
Why do you think some people are still hesitant?
My biggest takeaway is that they’re afraid. Every day, there’s something new out there and information changes. I think it’s the disinformation that makes people say, ‘Why should I get it?’ But little by little, either through mandates, through talking with their physicians or because their family members have asked them to get immunized, more people are getting it. And it’s available at so many places, like hospitals and pharmacies, which is great. I have a passion for my patients and try to see their side, but I also want them to see my side, and hopefully they’ll get the shot.
What are some common misconceptions about the vaccines?
I think some people don’t realize that it’s safe for pregnant women and kids between 5 and 11 years old. I’ve had so many people ask, ‘If you had young kids, would you get them vaccinated?’ I think they should, because the kids are all together at school and activities. When people are together in large groups, you want them to be safe. You don’t want them to bring it home to their parents, and then have it passed on to grandparents. It’s a trickle-down effect that needs to be stopped, and we need to do what we can.
If more people are vaccinated, is it harder for variants and mutations to emerge?
Where there’s a virus, there’s always going to be a variant or a mutation. The bottom line is, if we can take steps to reduce the virus’ spread, it will hopefully slow the emergence of new variants.
Everyone’s immune system is different; some people are very sick, with poor immune health from transplants or rheumatoid arthritis, and maybe they mount a different response than people who are relatively healthy. We have to protect everyone. Our No. 1 selling point is to stop variants before they get ‘out of the gate.’ If we don’t stop this virus, it’s only going to last longer and more people are going to die.
Will booster shots become an annual step we have to take to fight the virus?
Yes, I think they will. It will be our new flu shot. We don’t know that for sure yet, but it’s likely and that’s fine. There are healthy people who say to me, ‘If I have to get another booster tomorrow, sign me up.’ After a while, people are ready to go. You just want people to be safe and for this to be over. My goal is to protect these patients and keep them going as long as we possibly can.
The Jefferson Health – New Jersey Vaccination Center, located at 400 Laurel Oak Road in Voorhees, is offering doses 1 and 2 of the Moderna vaccine, no appointment necessary, on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Booster shots for adults 18 and up are available at the same times. Doses 1 and 2 of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine for kids between 5 and 11 are offered on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Jefferson Health – New Jersey
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 9.
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