Currently it is recommended that individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 receive the vaccine. Since people have a range of infections (from mild to severe) it is felt that the resulting immunity from being infected is variable (low to high). With vaccination, we see a robust and reliable immune response that has less variability. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already have COVID-19 were twice as likely than fully vaccinated people to get covid again.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant or those that might become pregnant in the future. Evidence exists and is growing that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and that the benefits far outweigh the negatives of contracting covid while pregnant. Pregnant women are more likely to become severely ill with covid and there is no evidence to support the notion that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility in men or women.
The current recommendation includes vaccination of women that are breastfeeding. There are no known risks to breastfed babies but data is somewhat limited. The vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone including breastfed babies and breastfeeding women who have been vaccinated do have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect babies from COVID-19 infection.
Current guidance is to NOT mix products. 3rd shots and boosters can be confusing and there is very recent action from the CDC and FDA on the topic.
Currently a narrow group of people who are immunocompromised may receive an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) 3rd shot, which is not technically a booster but part of the primary series.
Currently as of yesterday, the CDC has only approved a booster shot for some who have completed their 2nd Pfizer immunization at least 6 months ago. This group includes those over the age of 65, long term care residents, ages 50-64 with underlying conditions, ages 18-49 with underlying conditions weighing individual risks and those in high exposure occupations. High exposure occupations have not been defined but we assume will include those working in any health care setting including first responders.
Moderna and J & J boosters for this population have not yet been approved although we expect CDC and FDA to offer guidance in the coming weeks.
Current recommendations are to NOT seek a dose of an mRNA vaccine this circumstance. It is likely that J & J will require a booster and FDA and CDC will review incoming data over the next few weeks. If a booster is required, it is likely that individuals will need to receive an additional J & J dose rather than an mRNA dose.
Both will likely receive full FDA approval later this year, likely for ages 18 and up.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and pericarditis is inflammation of the lining around the heart. Both conditions have been reported in adolescent males and young adults, typically a few days after their second dose. Most of these issues resolve on their own without significant long-lasting issue. These reactions are rare and it is felt that the benefit of vaccination outweighs this risk.
We expect approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 in the coming weeks and that children in this age range can begin to receive vaccination before Oct 31st.
Yes. In general, it is felt that vaccinated individuals are about 5 times less likely to be infected with COVID-19. As such these individuals are FAR less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others. If vaccinated and infected, it does appear that these individuals are less likely to transmit infections to others.
There are a number of studies that show increasing numbers of breakthrough infections across all three vaccine products available in the United States. Internationally we are also seeing signals of waning immunity, which is why the conversation around booster shots has taken on new importance. The CDC published a study on Sept 17th, 2021 that assessed vaccine effectiveness across all three vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J) for the time period of March to August 2021. The key takeaway is that all three vaccines offer substantial protection against hospitalization, with the Pfizer and Moderna products offering slightly more protection than J&J.
Yes. It is important to know that vaccines can and do have side effects. Most side effects from the available COVID-19 occur in the first few days and include pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, headache, muscle pains and chills. Serious side effects can occur, but these are generally very rare and these risks are outweighed by the benefits of vaccination. Long term side effects seem unlikely. Vaccinated individuals are about 10 times less likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.
Source Materials: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization