‘Hallelujah!' UTSW Doctor Hopeful About Promise of COVID-19 Vaccine

Doctor warns there is still work to do before we can stop wearing masks and observing social distancing

dr trish perl
NBC 5 News

Dr. Trish Perl didn’t hesitate when asked what it means to have a vaccine for COVID-19 in North Texas.

“Hallelujah!” she said as she pulled up her sleeve.

Perl leads the infectious disease division at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and received her first dose this week along with thousands of other hospital workers.

Her only side effect was a sore arm.

“On the surface right now, it’s looking like it’s a terrific vaccine,” she explained.

Studies on the vaccine have shown it is 95% effective after the second dose. Perl pointed out the high efficacy holds up across a variety of demographics, including age, race, and health conditions.

For her, the data is a beacon of hope.

"There's a lot of darkness out there right now,” Perl acknowledged. “The numbers are really high, We're seeing people die. It's been a very, very hard, hard year for us and I think that to see something like this is really exciting."

She was preparing to speak about the vaccine during a virtual event at 7 p.m. Thursday through UT Southwestern.

Amid the excitement about the vaccine delivery, Perl warned North Texans to remain cautious.

“We’ve really got to recognize that first of all it’s going to take a long time to vaccinate all these people, for a lot of different reasons, and to get the kind of herd immunity we really need to get out of where we are,” Perl said.

She called it just one part of the toolbox for fighting COVID-19, pointing out people will still need to social distance and wear masks for a while.

“I’m hoping if we do all of that [then] we can at least have seats at the table moving forward.”

For now though, as hospital numbers surge, she’s urging North Texans to stay home for the holidays.

"I am saying this as somebody who literally is not going to see her kids for the first time. It’s hard,” she said, choking up. “It’s just as hard for us as it is for everyone else because it is a very special time of year.”

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