Scott Phillips, MD, FACS, FAAOA, spent time via Zoom call with Sycamore Services directors to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are questions and answers from Dr. Phillips.
Q: People have expressed concerns about taking a “new” vaccine. Is the new COVID-19 vaccine safe?
A: The “new” Covid vaccine is really not entirely new. It is built on the platform for the old SARS virus, which has had a vaccine for several years. They just changed some of the proteins so that it would be active against Covid. Thus, it is not entirely new or untested. Hopefully that will allay fears of it being “brand new”. That SARS vaccine has been found to be quite safe for many years.
Q: We’ve heard about mutations and new strains of the COVID-19 virus, will the vaccines that are already in use be effective against these strains?
A: There are a couple new strains of Covid that are emerging, the first one in England has already been found in several states here in the US. The second new strain is in South Africa. These two new strains seem to spread more rapidly and easily. This is very concerning for new cases that are probably going to be emerging, and how quickly they will spread. However, early reports suggest that the Covid vaccine is likely going to be effective against both of these strains of the virus.
Q: Should I get the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19.
A: Yes, vaccination provides the best protection from future COVID-19 infections. For folks who have had COVID-19, we don’t always know how well their body developed antibodies and how long those antibodies last, but in many cases it’s only about 90 days. For individuals that had COVID but were asymptomatic, recent studies are showing only about 25% of those individuals develop any antibody immunity to COVID-19.
Q: Should I be concerned about having an allergic reactiontothe COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare, in fact we are seeing a smaller percentage of allergic reactions to this vaccine than with seasonal flu vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine contains a manufactured protein (plus lipids, a sugar, and cholesterol); there are very few allergy-inducing products in the vaccines.
Q: If I am immunocompromised, should I get the vaccine?
A: There are lots of disorders/diseases that can cause you to be immunocompromised, but not all will rule you out from getting vaccinated (diabetes, for example). If you are immunocompromised, you should discuss the vaccine with your physician.
Information shared by Dr. Phillips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection
- COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.
- Clinical trials of all vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use, including COVID-19 vaccines. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Watch a video on what an EUA is.
- Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. However, experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness.
- Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important parts of COVID-19 disease that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic
- Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures alone are not always enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
- The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
- Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. As experts learn more about how COVID-19 vaccination may help reduce spread of the disease in communities, CDC will continue to update the recommendations to protect communities using the latest science.