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Last updated January 12, 2021


Immunologist Dr. Laurie’s Update on the COVID-19 Vaccine
January 12, 2021
Introduction

This is just a little update from me as a virologist and infectious disease physician. This update is to help all of you and to help educate your patients.


Bad News

  • We have had more positive tests and patients in medical facilities in IRC since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 (Sars-2) can mutate very easily and has mutated many times. This is because the virus is an RNA virus That replicates with an RNA dependent RNA polymerase that lacks error checking proofreading Thus it results in a high mutation rate and a cloud of variant viruses.
  • Roll-out of vaccines is very haphazard.
  • It is winter people will be inside more.


Good News

  • Well of course the very good news is there are 2 vaccines approved for emergency authorization in this county Both have a very high effective immunity.
  • The side effects of the vaccines are usually very mild Only a few severe allergic reactions have occurred in people who already have a history of severe allergic reactions to many things including other vaccines and foods It is thought the reactions were not to the mRNA itself (as we all have mRNA in our bodies), but to another component possibly lipid globule the mRNa is packed in to increase the efficacy of the vaccine.


About the Vaccines

  • AS we know 2 approved so far.
  • Both are mRNA vaccines not of human or animal origin.
  • Pfizer vaccine must be kept at `70 c so will not likely be available at doctors’ offices.
  • 2 doses second is 21 days after the first.
  • Moderna vaccine also mRNA second dose is given 28 days after the first The good news is this vaccine can be kept in regular freezer an ultracold freezer (which is very hard to find currently) is not needed.
  • Of course, other vaccines are in trials currently but a lot of kinks have to be worked out on them before they will be presented to the FDA


Myths and Truths
True

  • You may and likely will get mild side effects from the two current Covid Sars-2 vaccine these include soreness of your arm where you got the shot, body aches, fatigue and mild fever feeling 
  • No one has died from the vaccine the risk of a serious side effect is one in 1.4 million Those who had the allergic reaction recovered with treatment.
  • CDC currently is not recommending people who have a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines to get the vaccine Or, if so, must be given in a setting where they can be monitored and treated for an allergic reaction.
  • There were no studies done on vaccination for pregnant women and the vaccine is not approved for children less than 16 years old so far.
  • The current vaccines are at least 90% effective after the second dose of preventing severe illness once you are infected by the virus In fact quite a bit of immunity is given with the first dose but to get the true over 90% effectiveness you need to get both doses at close to the recommended schedule.
  • They do not prevent infection however they make your body make antibodies to the virus so that when you get infected you will not develop severe disease from the virus


Myth

  • I had COVID-19 already so I do not need the vaccine. Natural immunity to COVID-19 is not very efficient and there is not a long-lasting immunity found after natural infection Part of this may be because the virus can make your body make an antibody to interferon (your own immune defense)
  • I have had the vaccine so now I no longer have to wear a mask or physical distance. Unfortunately, we have no studies done yet (are in process of course) to see if the vaccine prevents spread from asymptomatic infected people (remember it is not made to prevent infection just the disease itself).
  • The vaccine can change the DNA in my body. Nah, we are not going to become spider man or the incredible hulk. The vaccine is RNA not DNA it goes only as far as the cytoplasm not the nucleus of the cell so it can not be incorporated into our genome and can not change or genetic make-up.
  • I do not need a vaccine because there are cures for the virus. NO there are many medications currently being used to try to decrease death and to try to decrease the severity of the disease to try to keep people out the hospital, but they are not true cures That is why many studies are ongoing 
  • That is why volunteers are always necessary for vaccine and medication trials. Contact me if you’d like to volunteer for my research. Dr. Laurie Welton germslayer@yahoo.com

The Indian River County Medical Society is a non-profit, professional association comprised entirely of physicians (MDs and DOs). It was founded by eight physicians in 1947. Today, the Medical Society has over 130 members. IRCMS serves Indian River County as the county component of the Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association, but is administratively and financially independent.

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