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Doctors Urge Shipbuilders to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Published February 9, 2021

Newport News Shipbuilding Medical Director Dr. Steven Apostoles and Dr. Vijay Subramaniam have a message to share with the NNS community – get your COVID-19 vaccine. Now that the Moderna vaccine is available at NNS, all shipbuilders will be offered the shots. Both physicians agree the benefits outweigh any side effects.

“I’m more frightened to get COVID than I am over the vaccine,” said Apostoles. “This is our opportunity to fight COVID. Do it for yourself, your family and your fellow shipbuilders. Think it through, look at the science, get the shot.”

Dr. Subramaniam advised that the shot is effective and no one is immune from the disease. “I’ve seen 40-year-old body builders in wheelchairs because they were so beaten up by COVID. There are cases of people experiencing memory issues as well as chronic heart and lung problems. It’s better to prevent it than have to treat it,” he said.

Other considerations Apostoles and Subramaniam pointed out include:

  • Establishing “herd immunity” is the only way to get the numbers under control. The more people vaccinated, the faster life can return to “normal.” Herd immunity is when a portion of a community has built up a resistance to a disease and the spread of that disease to the remainder of the population greatly decreases. Vaccine side effects are the same across all genders and races. The vaccine is just as effective in one race as another.
  • Reported vaccine side effects are minimal – soreness at the site, some fatigue and/or low-grade fever.
  • Risk of getting sick or hospitalized from the coronavirus is significantly higher in African Americans and Hispanics.

The vaccine is strongly encouraged but not mandatory for shipbuilders. Given the high demand on the vaccine, shipbuilders are advised to get it from their healthcare provider if offered there first. Also, in order for the Moderna vaccine to be most effective, two doses are needed. It is important that shipbuilders use the same vaccine manufacturer for both the first and second doses.

Shipbuilders are encouraged to discuss their medical concerns with their healthcare providers.

A list of frequently asked questions regarding NNS’ vaccination process is available at or email [email protected].