Robin Schoenthaler, MD
6 min readDec 23, 2020


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Eighteen Vaccine Questions Answered in Under Six Minutes

My friend, a front-line critical care doc at Children’s, beaming behind her mask, as she receives her first vaccine against COVID-19

Here are answers to eighteen common questions about the two approved vaccines: Pfizer’s vaccine (first one out of the gate, the one which health care workers started getting first) and the Moderna vaccine (just arriving at hospitals this week).

Q. Can I get infected from the vaccine?

A. No. Period. No. There is no virus in the injection so you cannot get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine.

Q. How effective are these vaccines?

A. Every vaccine trial has two groups of people — one who gets the vaccine and one who doesn’t (they get a placebo). Then the scientists count up who gets sick.

Here’s the results:


18,000 people RECEIVED the vaccine: 8 got Covid

18,000 people DIDN’T GET the vaccine: 162 got Covid


14,000 people RECEIVED the vaccine: 11 got Covid

14,000 people DIDN’T GET the vaccine: 185 got Covid

So in total:

32,000 people RECEIVED the vaccine: 19 got Covid

32,000 people DIDN’T GET the vaccine: 347 got Covid

It adds up to >94% effectiveness — it’s unbelievably fantastic, SPECTACULARLY good. This is why many health care workers are banging down the doors to get this vaccine in their arms as fast as they can.

Q. Why did this happen so fast? Isn’t that dangerous?

A. This is the fastest vaccine development in the history of the world because a bunch of science went on for years before this and then a bunch of good stuff happened all at once. It’s like a “perfect storm” of vaccine development:

  1. Because our knowledge about genetic sequencing is about ten gajillion times better than it was a few years ago;
  2. Because they figured out Covid’s whole genetic code within days and then invented a vaccine in about half an hour (slight exaggeration but not much);
  3. Because scientists have been studying other coronaviruses behind the scenes for years;
  4. Because scientists…



Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,