HealthQuest Stories

Show Results For:
Clear Filters

Patient Stories

View All

Subscribe to Our
e-Newsletter

Subscribe

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccine

Mar 10, 2021, 10:54 AM
Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Mary Bavaro answers some frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mary Bavaro, MD Infectious Disease
By Mary Bavaro, MD
Infectious Disease Specialist
Skagit Regional Health

Excellent News: With the late February 2021 approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are now three vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19. All three vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease and death.

Pfizer - mRNA vaccine: Two doses separated by three weeks with 95 percent efficacy (preventing symptomatic disease) after two doses.
Moderna - mRNA vaccine: Two doses separated by four weeks with 95 percent efficacy (preventing symptomatic disease) after two doses.
Johnson & Johnson - Adenovirus vector vaccine: One dose with 93.1 percent efficacy for the prevention of COVID-19–associated hospitalization. Efficacy for the prevention of symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 was 66.3 percent.

What is the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine and is it safe?

  1. Like all vaccines, viral vector vaccines for COVID-19 have been extensively tested for safety before being authorized or approved for use in the United States.
  2. Vaccines of this type have been well-studied and viral vector vaccines have been used to respond to recent Ebola outbreaks.
  3. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus as a means to deliver instructions, in the form of genetic material (a gene) to a cell. The vaccine does not cause infection with either COVID-19 or the virus that is used as the vector.
  4. The genetic material delivered by the viral vector does not integrate into a person’s DNA.

What about the mRNA vaccines?

  1. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been extensively tested for safety before being authorized for use in the United States.
  2. mRNA technology is new, but has been studied for more than a decade.
  3. mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.
  4. mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
  5. The primary endpoint of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine studies were confirmed cases of COVID-19 resulting in vaccine efficacy of 94.5 percent.  A secondary endpoint analyzed severe cases of COVID-19 and all cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the mRNA vaccinated groups.

How do any of the vaccines do in regards to reduction in positive SARS CoV2 PCR tests (the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19)?
After two doses of vaccine the incidence of SARS-CoV 2 positivity was 88.7 percent in one study. More studies are coming looking at prevention of asymptomatic infection and transmission of virus.

What does approval of this new vaccine mean for you?
More people can be vaccinated as there is more vaccine available.

Dr. Bavaro receives COVID-19 vaccineI have heard that the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Will I get to choose?
All three vaccines are effective in reducing risk of hospitalizations and death. This is one of the main goals of vaccinating as many people as possible to reduce admissions and deaths. We will also be reducing numbers of people who are ill. Each facility approved to administer COVID-19 vaccines will get supplies of vaccines as available by the state. Right now, we need to immunize as many people as possible to get the pandemic under control and reduce the risk of new variants developing. This means that patients need to get the vaccine that is available to them in the immunization clinic that day. All three vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease and death.

What is a COVID-19 variant and are any variants reported in Skagit County?
Variants are strains of viruses with mutations to help them to survive. Mutations occur the longer a virus is circulating in the community. This is one of the many reasons we need to get as many people immunized as possible as quickly as possible. As of early March 2021, there are three main circulating variants worldwide. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19 which may lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. This is why vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, isolation and quarantine are so important to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.The three main variants include:

  1. The United Kingdom (UK) variant called B.1.1.7. This variant has many mutations and spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. It has been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of December 2020. This variant was detected in Skagit County in early March 2021.
  2. South African variant called B.1.351. This variant was detected first in October 2020 and shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021. As of March 5, 2021, one case has been found in Washington State.
  3. Brazilian variant called P.1. This variant was first detected in January 2021 and contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January 2021 with no cases reported in Washington state as of March 5, 2021.

I have heard that some of the vaccines are less effective against the variants. Why should I still get vaccinated?While the vaccines currently available may be less effective against some of the variants, they are still effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Even when our flu vaccine is not effective some years, patients who are vaccinated are less likely to have severe disease and die. The more people get immunized, the fewer numbers of new variants will emerge as less people will be infected and thus there will be less circulating virus.

What is being done to address the variants in regards to vaccines and will we need boosters if already immunized?
Much like with influenza vaccines each year where modifications are made each year to the flu vaccine based on different circulating strains from the southern hemisphere, pharmaceutical companies are working on adjusting the COVID-19 vaccines to include coverage for some of the circulating variants. Researchers are looking at the need for boosters for those already immunized. Studies are also being done to see how long immunity lasts and will this be like the influenza vaccine where we need annual shots. More data is coming so stay tuned for updates.

If I am pregnant can I get vaccinated and do the vaccines cause infertility?

  1. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women were not included in the studies looking at either vaccine. There are plans for formal studies. However, given the pandemic and risk for disease, immunization experts and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommend consideration of immunizing those who are pregnant or breastfeeding as it is felt based on safety data to date that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. To date, many pregnant women have decided to receive the vaccine worldwide and, based on data to date, the vaccine appears safe and effective in pregnancy. Please talk more to your OB/GYN or Family Medicine physician more about this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. COVID-19 vaccines have not been associated with infertility or miscarriage.
  3. Antibodies to the spike protein will not bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.
  4. Antibodies to the spike protein have not been linked to infertility after COVID-19 infection.
  5. There does not appear to be an increased risk of miscarriage after COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Bavaro in front of vaccinated signature posterIf I get vaccinated, do I still need to mask and practice social distancing?
Yes! These vaccines are effective but are not 100 percent. We need at least 70 percent of the population to be immune before there is enough herd immunity to hopefully put this pandemic to rest. As of March 5, 2021, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing. This is excellent news but we need to keep going strong and keep up on masking, social distancing and washing our hands to prevent spread of this virus and stop this pandemic. We can do this together!

What can I tell others?

  1. Get immunized
  2. Practice the three Ws:
    • Wear a mask
    • Watch distance
    • Wash hands

 

Blog

217 posts

Last post : 09/16/2021

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccine

Mar 10, 2021, 10:54 AM
Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Mary Bavaro answers some frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mary Bavaro, MD Infectious Disease
By Mary Bavaro, MD
Infectious Disease Specialist
Skagit Regional Health

Excellent News: With the late February 2021 approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are now three vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19. All three vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease and death.

Pfizer - mRNA vaccine: Two doses separated by three weeks with 95 percent efficacy (preventing symptomatic disease) after two doses.
Moderna - mRNA vaccine: Two doses separated by four weeks with 95 percent efficacy (preventing symptomatic disease) after two doses.
Johnson & Johnson - Adenovirus vector vaccine: One dose with 93.1 percent efficacy for the prevention of COVID-19–associated hospitalization. Efficacy for the prevention of symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 was 66.3 percent.

What is the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine and is it safe?

  1. Like all vaccines, viral vector vaccines for COVID-19 have been extensively tested for safety before being authorized or approved for use in the United States.
  2. Vaccines of this type have been well-studied and viral vector vaccines have been used to respond to recent Ebola outbreaks.
  3. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus as a means to deliver instructions, in the form of genetic material (a gene) to a cell. The vaccine does not cause infection with either COVID-19 or the virus that is used as the vector.
  4. The genetic material delivered by the viral vector does not integrate into a person’s DNA.

What about the mRNA vaccines?

  1. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been extensively tested for safety before being authorized for use in the United States.
  2. mRNA technology is new, but has been studied for more than a decade.
  3. mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person.
  4. mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.
  5. The primary endpoint of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine studies were confirmed cases of COVID-19 resulting in vaccine efficacy of 94.5 percent.  A secondary endpoint analyzed severe cases of COVID-19 and all cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the mRNA vaccinated groups.

How do any of the vaccines do in regards to reduction in positive SARS CoV2 PCR tests (the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19)?
After two doses of vaccine the incidence of SARS-CoV 2 positivity was 88.7 percent in one study. More studies are coming looking at prevention of asymptomatic infection and transmission of virus.

What does approval of this new vaccine mean for you?
More people can be vaccinated as there is more vaccine available.

Dr. Bavaro receives COVID-19 vaccineI have heard that the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Will I get to choose?
All three vaccines are effective in reducing risk of hospitalizations and death. This is one of the main goals of vaccinating as many people as possible to reduce admissions and deaths. We will also be reducing numbers of people who are ill. Each facility approved to administer COVID-19 vaccines will get supplies of vaccines as available by the state. Right now, we need to immunize as many people as possible to get the pandemic under control and reduce the risk of new variants developing. This means that patients need to get the vaccine that is available to them in the immunization clinic that day. All three vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease and death.

What is a COVID-19 variant and are any variants reported in Skagit County?
Variants are strains of viruses with mutations to help them to survive. Mutations occur the longer a virus is circulating in the community. This is one of the many reasons we need to get as many people immunized as possible as quickly as possible. As of early March 2021, there are three main circulating variants worldwide. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19 which may lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. This is why vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, isolation and quarantine are so important to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.The three main variants include:

  1. The United Kingdom (UK) variant called B.1.1.7. This variant has many mutations and spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. It has been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of December 2020. This variant was detected in Skagit County in early March 2021.
  2. South African variant called B.1.351. This variant was detected first in October 2020 and shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021. As of March 5, 2021, one case has been found in Washington State.
  3. Brazilian variant called P.1. This variant was first detected in January 2021 and contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January 2021 with no cases reported in Washington state as of March 5, 2021.

I have heard that some of the vaccines are less effective against the variants. Why should I still get vaccinated?While the vaccines currently available may be less effective against some of the variants, they are still effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Even when our flu vaccine is not effective some years, patients who are vaccinated are less likely to have severe disease and die. The more people get immunized, the fewer numbers of new variants will emerge as less people will be infected and thus there will be less circulating virus.

What is being done to address the variants in regards to vaccines and will we need boosters if already immunized?
Much like with influenza vaccines each year where modifications are made each year to the flu vaccine based on different circulating strains from the southern hemisphere, pharmaceutical companies are working on adjusting the COVID-19 vaccines to include coverage for some of the circulating variants. Researchers are looking at the need for boosters for those already immunized. Studies are also being done to see how long immunity lasts and will this be like the influenza vaccine where we need annual shots. More data is coming so stay tuned for updates.

If I am pregnant can I get vaccinated and do the vaccines cause infertility?

  1. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women were not included in the studies looking at either vaccine. There are plans for formal studies. However, given the pandemic and risk for disease, immunization experts and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommend consideration of immunizing those who are pregnant or breastfeeding as it is felt based on safety data to date that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. To date, many pregnant women have decided to receive the vaccine worldwide and, based on data to date, the vaccine appears safe and effective in pregnancy. Please talk more to your OB/GYN or Family Medicine physician more about this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. COVID-19 vaccines have not been associated with infertility or miscarriage.
  3. Antibodies to the spike protein will not bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.
  4. Antibodies to the spike protein have not been linked to infertility after COVID-19 infection.
  5. There does not appear to be an increased risk of miscarriage after COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Bavaro in front of vaccinated signature posterIf I get vaccinated, do I still need to mask and practice social distancing?
Yes! These vaccines are effective but are not 100 percent. We need at least 70 percent of the population to be immune before there is enough herd immunity to hopefully put this pandemic to rest. As of March 5, 2021, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing. This is excellent news but we need to keep going strong and keep up on masking, social distancing and washing our hands to prevent spread of this virus and stop this pandemic. We can do this together!

What can I tell others?

  1. Get immunized
  2. Practice the three Ws:
    • Wear a mask
    • Watch distance
    • Wash hands