In this episode of “What’s Your Health Move,” Dr. John Lee joins to discuss and bust some COVID-19 vaccine myths.
Cayman's ample doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and the distribution success of our vaccination program will help us reopen in a safe and responsible manner.
The news of coronavirus variants coming from South Africa, Brazil and the UK have raised concerns about how the vaccines would perform. The results of early studies show promising results. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that all three of the new COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, are performing well in neutralizing the new variants of the virus, bringing reason for optimism. While these strains of the virus may have caused concern, the vaccines appear to work well in combating them.
It is very reassuring that evidence suggests the current vaccines will protect against these new variants. Plasma taken from people who have been vaccinated has been shown to ‘neutralise’ these mutations.
If you are considering pregnancy soon, accepting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you is a great way to ensure that you — and your pregnancy — are protected. COVID-19 vaccination is not believed to affect future fertility.
Yes. Due to the life-threatening complications associated with COVID-19 and known cases of re-infection, you are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you had been sick with COVID-19 and have recovered, leaving at least four weeks from the time of infection. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips or any electronics.
No, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not have any viable virus particles so the vaccine cannot cause disease. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is an mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine which uses the genetic sequence for the spike protein from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enable it to be transported into the cells of the body. The cells then produce the spike proteins which allow our immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells to respond to any future encounter. This does not cause COVID-19 but means that if the body is exposed to the virus, the immune system would recognise and attack the virus.
COVID-19 can either make you have a sniffle or serious, life-threatening complications; therefore, there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. Getting vaccinated helps towards stopping the pandemic so we can open our borders fully and strengthen our economy. The Cayman Islands can then go back to a level of normalcy without the fear of getting sick.
Yes. Individuals who are immunosuppressed or have, for example, HIV infection (regardless of CD4 count) should be given COVID-19 vaccine.
Children will not be a priority group for a vaccine early in vaccine deployment as vaccine trials have only just begun in children and therefore, there are very limited data for this group. It is worth knowing that children and young people have a very low risk of COVID-19, severe disease or death due to SARS-CoV-2 compared to adults.
Although there is no known risk associated with vaccines during pregnancy or breastfeeding, we still await more evidence if the vaccine is suitable for pregnant women, and therefore it is not recommended.
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) does not advise routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.
If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of COVID-19 vaccine, she should complete her pregnancy before finishing the recommended schedule. Women should be offered the vaccine as soon as possible after pregnancy.
The second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be given up to twelve weeks after the first dose following guidance from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. If an interval longer than the recommended interval is left between doses, the second dose should still be given. The course will not need to be restarted.
The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should not be given less than 19 days after the first dose. Ideally, the interval between doses should be 21 days.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses separated by an interval of 21 days for full protection. You will get full protection from this vaccine usually 1–2 weeks after getting your second dose. When you get the vaccine, you will be advised when you need to come back for your second dose.
The types of vaccines that currently exist rely on the same basic principle: to stimulate our immune system to responding to a real viral threat by mimicking a natural infection without actually casing you to be sick.
There are four main types of vaccines:
– inactivated virus (like for polio or rabies or influenza);
– protein based (e.g. for hepatitis B or whooping cough);
– viral vector (which includes the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 and is a similar technology to that for smallpox and Ebola);
– and the mRNA type. mRNA stands for ‘messenger RiboNucleic Acid’. The mRNA type of vaccine transports the genetic sequence for the spike protein (from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) into our own cells. Our cells then produce the spike proteins which induce an immune response. This does not cause COVID-19 but means that if the body is exposed to the virus, the immune system would recognise and attack the virus.
The mRNA type of vaccine has so far been produced for COVID-19 disease by two different companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
The COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 contains: the active substance, which is BNT162b2 RNA. Each dose is 0.3 mL with 30 micrograms mRNA. The vaccine contains polyethylene glycol/macrogol (PEG) as part of ALC-0159.
The other ingredients are:
ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
potassium dihydrogen phosphate
disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
The vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives, mercury or antibiotics.
Please visit the Public Health website, to learn where you can get your COVID-19 vaccine. This site will have the information as soon as it becomes available.
We are aiming that at least 65% of the total population should be vaccinated. This is approximately 44,200 people.
The Government is providing the vaccine without a charge through the Public Health department.
No, it is not compulsory but strongly encouraged.
Yes, the vaccination programme is comprised of three vaccination stages in which healthcare and frontline workers will be the first group to be vaccinated. Details are available on www.gov.ky/coronavirus
The chances that you will get COVID-19 are greatly reduced if you take the vaccine, as the vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in preventing the vaccinated person from becoming infected. The fewer people who get infected with COVID-19 the less the disease is able to spread. It is also worth noting that people who are vaccinated but still contract COVID-19 have much less severe effects from the disease.
All returning passengers, regardless of having a full vaccination course, are required to undergo a 14 day quarantine for the purpose of surveillance by the Medical Officer of Health as required under the Control of COVID-19 (No.3) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021. The Premier has announced the Governments plans that once 90% of those over 60 years of age have been vaccinated in the Cayman Islands, the quarantine period may be reduced to 10 days, provided the traveller meets various conditions which include a full course of a COVID-19 vaccination which has been approved by the Chief Medical Officer.
Although vaccines may protect people against COVID-19 disease and are likely to prevent death, it is likely still possible for vaccinated people to carry the virus in their throat, nose, airways and so transmit it to others. Additionally, vaccination may not give full protection to mutations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Ministry of Health recognises that some countries are relaxing requirements for people who have been vaccinated, but Cayman is fairly unique in that there is no known community spread. This means our regulations will be different to many surrounding countries.
The wearing of masks and practising of physical distancing will be required until a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and we are sure the vaccine provides long-term protection. Herd immunity is achieved when a sufficient proportion of the population is made non-infectious through vaccination so that the likelihood of an infectious individual transmitting to a susceptible individual is very low. Frequent hand washing and respiratory etiquette are essential in stopping the spread.
Published data from Pfizer says that short term efficacy between dose one and two is 52.4%. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said that short-term efficacy from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is calculated at around 90%. Immunity provided by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reaches its full effect seven days after the second dose. However, long term efficacy is unknown. We will know how long the immunity produced by the vaccine lasts as more data is collected. However, it is too early to know if whether this is a one-off injection or an annual one, like that for the ‘flu.
We believe that this might be possible i.e. someone might have had a proper course of the vaccine and be protected themselves, but still might be able to transmit the infection to someone else. This is because the inside of the body is protected against an infection but the infection might still be able to survive in the upper airways. However, a person who does not have symptoms is also not coughing and sneezing which very much reduces the possibility of transmission. More information about this aspect will come out when the scientists have had more time to study the effects of vaccinations of large numbers of people. The best thing to do to protect the community is to take the vaccine.
It is possible you could still get sick as the vaccines are 95% effective, therefore there is a small chance that if you are exposed to COVID-19, you might get sick. It is also possible to get sick with COVID-19 a few weeks after the vaccination if you have been exposed to the virus. It takes a few weeks to build an immune response after being vaccinated. So it’s possible that someone could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and get sick just before or just after vaccination.
COVID- 19 vaccines should not be routinely offered at the same time as other vaccines. Scheduling of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines should ideally be separated by an interval of at least fourteen (14) days more so as not to incorrectly attribute potential adverse events rather than any potential for interaction. Public Health also recommends waiting a month for some vaccines, such as Hepatitis B.
Although vaccine development typically takes many years, scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). That earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
They have also overlapped different stages of the process, such that manufacturing was already well underway whilst the clinical trials were still ongoing; additionally, information was provided to many regulators on a rolling basis, rather than all at once at the end of the trial periods.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be administered by intramuscular (IM) injection, similar to the ‘flu shot.
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