Lancaster Physician Spring 2021 - 15

SPRING 2021

to see that becoming infected with this virus
is very risky.
The vaccine, on the other hand, is not very
risky. Around 50 million doses of the vaccine
have been given so far and there have been
very few reports of adverse events, nor have
there yet been deaths reported associated
with the vaccine (at the time of this writing).
When you weigh this risk/benefit, despite
the small risk of side effects, the COVID-19
vaccine is safe and is the right choice for us
right now.
WHAT SIDE EFFECTS HAVE BEEN NOTED
FROM THE VACCINE?
Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine
are similar to the flu shot or other common
vaccines. The most common reactions are
sore arm, headache, muscle aches, fever,
and chills. These side effects are temporary
and typically resolve within 24-48 hours of
receiving the vaccine. There are some reports
that these side effects may be more common
after the second shot.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE AFTER
THE INJECTION FOR THE VACCINE TO
BECOME EFFECTIVE? AND HOW LONG
WILL THAT IMMUNITY LAST?
In the two-dose series vaccines, the antibody
response becomes full approximately one
week after the second dose of the vaccine is
received. In the single-dose vaccine, it is fully
active about two weeks after immunization.
The duration of immunity is not known
yet. All three available vaccines produce an
extremely high level of antibodies. There is
hope that the immunity will last years, but
this needs more research and information.
Viral variants and mutations are likely to
affect the duration of immunity.
IS IT TRUE THAT EVEN AFTER VACCINATION I CAN TRANSMIT THE VIRUS?
More information is still needed to know
if vaccination prevents viral shedding and
thus prevents a person from transmitting
the virus. Initial studies indicate that it does

help prevent transmission, but more research
is needed. The important thing is it prevents
serious disease, which is what we worry about
the most.

medications used to treat some autoimmune
disorders that may interfere with the vaccine's
ability to produce antibodies, so that may
need to be considered as well.

IF I AM PREGNANT OR THINKING ABOUT
GETTING PREGNANT, SHOULD I GET THE
VACCINE?

HOW CAN I BE CERTAIN THIS VACCINE IS
SAFE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR?

The American College of Obstetrics and
Gynecology recommends that the vaccine
decision be done on a case-by-case basis. Since
COVID-19 infection has been shown to be
worse in pregnant women and can trigger
preterm labor, it is a balance of theoretical
risk and benefit. Most obstetricians are recommending their pregnant patients receive
the vaccine.
CAN THE VACCINE CAUSE FERTILITY
PROBLEMS?
No; there is no concern about fertility
problems from the vaccine. Risks of the
vaccine affecting sperm or ovum quality are
nonexistent. In fact, currently there is not a
single vaccine with FDA approval that has
been shown to affect fertility. Some reports
suggest that COVID-19 infection can affect
fertility, so doctors are recommending
people who are trying to conceive should
get vaccinated.
I HAVE A PERSONAL OR FAMILY HISTORY OF AN AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER. IS
IT SAFE FOR ME TO GET THE VACCINE?
People with autoimmune disorders are
more likely to have severe COVID disease;
therefore, the benefits of the protection via
the vaccine most likely outweigh the risks.
According to the CDC, people with autoimmune disorders were eligible for enrollment
in vaccine clinical trials. However, no specific
data are currently available on the safety and
efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in persons
with autoimmune conditions. Notably, no
imbalances were observed in the occurrence of
symptoms consistent with autoimmune conditions or inflammatory disorders in clinical
trial participants who received COVID-19
vaccine compared to placebo. There are certain

LANCASTER

15

PHYSICIAN

We currently live in a country where people
may not receive the health care they deserve
due to racism and policies that promote the
disenfranchisement of certain communities.
The impact of this is psychological trauma surrounding health care. It is understandable that,
because of this, there is a lack of confidence
in the vaccine among these communities.
It also is clear that Black, Indigenous,
and Latinx people are suffering and dying
disproportionately from COVID-19. This
makes it essential that we address concerns
nationally and locally so that we can move
forward with protecting everyone.
The vaccine has been tested in large groups
of people of all ethnicities and nationalities
including Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations. Diversity in clinical trials is critical
to ensure safety to all groups. There is always
room for improvement, but the diversity in the
trials of this vaccine were better than they have
ever been, and data indicates it is safe for all.
I HAVE HEARD THAT THE VACCINE CAN
CAUSE AN ALLERGIC REACTION. IS THAT
TRUE? IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO OTHER
MEDICATIONS SHOULD YOU GET THE
COVID VACCINE?
In trials of 11.1 million doses of the vaccine, an allergic reaction occurred 21 times.
So, an allergic response is exceedingly rare.
However, for this reason, it is mandated that
patients wait 15 minutes at the vaccination
site after receiving the COVID vaccine so that
any serious allergic reaction can be treated
immediately. People with a history of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction including facial
swelling and shortness of breath) are advised to
wait in the health care setting for 30 minutes
after getting the vaccine. The vaccine was
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