Blog

COVID-19 Vaccine Information from the CDC

Vaccine safety given the speed of vaccine development and rollout

The federal government has worked since the start of the pandemic to make COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible. This accelerated timeline is unprecedented. Some people are concerned that vaccine safety may have been sacrificed in favor of speed. However, as with all vaccines, safety is a top priority in the United States and globally.

Key Points

·         Millions of people in the United States and around the world have received COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety              monitoring in U.S. history.
·         The United States is using established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
·         Results from US and global monitoring efforts are reassuring. No unexpected patterns of reactions or other safety concerns have been identified during                early vaccine safety monitoring. And, if they show up, we have systems in place to quickly identify them and take action.
·         All of the currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines, have been carefully reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA is              responsible for reviewing all safety data from clinical trials to determine if the expected benefits of vaccination outweigh potential risks.
o    Learn more about FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) in this video.
·         The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed all safety data before recommending the current COVID-19 vaccines for use. Learn    how ACIP makes vaccine recommendations.

Natural immunity versus vaccine immunity

Because some people with COVID-19 can have very mild symptoms, some may see natural infection as preferable to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people may be concerned that getting a COVID-19 vaccine could make them sicker if they do get COVID-19.

Key Points

·         COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death, and we can’t reliably predict who will have mild or severe illness. You can also spread COVID-19 to others,                   including family. And, some people continue to have long-term health issues after COVID-19 infection.
·         Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-               19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. However, experts don’t know for sure how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness                 and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.
·         Currently available vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials and FDA has determined that they are safe and effective.
o    The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is                                         known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Watch a video on what an EUA is.
·         Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated and these vaccines are undergoing the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. The same                  vaccines are used globally and the World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of vaccinations have been administered.
·         Once you’ve been fully vaccinated, you are able to more safely do some things, including travel.

Common vaccine side effects

Some COVID-19 vaccines may cause more reactions than other vaccines that people are more familiar with. It is important to understand this  in case you  experience a strong reaction after being vaccinated.

Key Points

·         Common side effects from vaccination are pain, redness, and swelling on the arm where the shot was given, and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills,              fever and nausea throughout the rest of the body. Some people have no side effects.
·         Side effects after the second dose, for vaccines that require two doses, may be more intense than the ones they experienced after the first shot.
·         These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Patients should seek medical care if their symptoms            don’t go away.
·         While COVID-19 vaccines may cause side effects, vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19.
·         Side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection.
·         It is not recommended to take over-the-counter medicine – such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen – before vaccination for the purpose of trying to             prevent vaccine-related side effects.
·         Please talk to us  about any questions you may have about medications you are taking.

Serious, long-term, or unknown side effects

Due to the relative speed with which these vaccines were developed, patients’ concerns about long-term side effects are reasonable and to be expected. For other vaccines routinely used in the United States, the phases of clinical trials are performed one at a time. During the development of COVID-19 vaccines, these phases have overlapped to speed up the process so the vaccines can be used as quickly as possible to control the pandemic. No trial phases have been skipped.

Key Points

·         While COVID-19 vaccines have been developed rapidly, all steps have been taken to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
·         In the United States, the FDA and CDC continue to monitor vaccine safety to make sure even long-term side effects are identified. Globally, many                          countries are also monitoring vaccine safety.
·         COVID-19 vaccines are being continuously monitored for safety, and the FDA and ACIP will take action to address any safety problems detected.

How many doses are needed and why

The mRNA vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, require two shots. The same vaccine brand must be used for both shots. The viral vector vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, only requires one shot.

Key Points

·         The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine both need two shots in order to get the most protection.
·         People should get their second shot even if they have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or doctor has advised them not to get it.
·         Only one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is needed to get the most protection.
·         If two shots are required, the shots are given several weeks apart and both shots are generally needed to provide the best protection against COVID-19.                The first shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response.
·         You will set up an appointment for you second dose before you leave.
·         COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other.

CDC does not recommend one vaccine over the other. You should receive the first vaccine available.

Which vaccine to get

Because there are different types of COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended, you may have questions about which vaccine brand you should get.

Key Points

·         All currently authorized and recommend COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another.
·         Patients should get the first vaccine that is available to them. They should not wait for a specific brand.
·         There is vaccination information available,  including how to find a vaccination location, what to expect at their appointment, and  more.
·         Patients should know the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including what they can start doing again once they are fully vaccinated.

Reverse Peer Pressure

An interesting story:

Mrs. Lewis & I went to the Fairport Village Farmers’ Market today. We are fully vaccinated but still feel more comfortable wearing masks, even out doors. There was a sign saying “Masks are not necessary if you are fully vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated you must wear a mask.” There was no one checking immunization status.

As we entered, the majority of people did not have masks on and we felt strangely weird wearing ours as if people were looking at us wondering why we were not vaccinated. We took off our masks… Peer pressure. We wish we had a pin or sign saying “we are vaccinated. we just feel safer with our masks on.”

We Have Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine

We  received 30 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for our patients 12 years and up. Please call to schedule an appointment. We have access to as many doses as we need, but wanted to start small to ramp up the process. We will have enough vaccine for everyone who is eligible and wants it.

(Vector image by VectorStock / DuckOn)

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

COVID-19 Vaccines

Monday, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for everyone 12 and older. (Yes we do recommend the vaccine).  The Moderna vaccine is close behind in the process. We are waiting to hear from the CDC and NY State Department of Health with instructions on when we can begin administering it in our office. We have plans in place to start rolling out Pfizer vaccine on a limited basis so that we can maintain social distancing in the office.

We also hear rumors that the Pfizer vaccine studies in children 2-11 are going well and we may see that approval in the not to distant future.  It may be available for 5–11-year-olds by late summer. We will keep you apprised of the status of the vaccines as we learn more.

I have been asked if I am confident that the vaccine is 100% safe in 100% of patients. Unfortunately, I cannot be. I also cannot be sure of anything being 100% safe in 100% of children (even something like ice cream). I can be certain that the vaccine has been shown to be extremely safe and effective. Although they may not prevent illness, they prevent serious illness and hospitalizations.

Welcome Legacy Pediatrics

Beginning May 1st, Dr. Wirt and I will share after hours and weekend call with Legacy Pediatrics. We have known Dr. Janet Casey and  Dr. Alice Taylor for years and are thrilled that they will share coverage with us.  We are sorry to part ways with Pathway Pediatrics, but they have become part of Trillium Health and made changes to their practice that would not work with Dr. Wirt and myself as separate entities.

Legacy Pediatrics is at 1815 S Clinton Ave and can be reached at 585-568-8330.  Dr. Janet Casey, Dr. Alice Taylor and Kate Shand PA-C will be able to see our patients when we are out of the office.

Please call if you have questions.

Stay Calm Amid Worries About the J&J Vaccine

From the NY State Commissioner of Health,

“As the CDC and FDA have said, any adverse events related to the Johnson &
Johnson vaccine ‘appear to be extremely rare’ and, ‘People who have received
the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or
shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their
health care provider.’

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination process or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians call our office in Rochester, NY at (585) 442-1421.

 

Stay Calm and Get Vaccinated

Currently anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. I have received numerous questions about whether or not I recommend the vaccine.

I do recommend getting the vaccine. The vaccines are safe. The side effects are minimal. Most people experience side effects comparable to any other vaccine, sore arm and mild achiness. There are reports of fatigue and feeling ill after the second vaccine, but the majority of people tolerate it very well. Any other scheduled vaccine should be 2 weeks apart. We will gladly accommodate that requirement.

If you have a reaction, you should stay home for 48 hours, but you do not need to be tested for COVID-19 per protocol if you have fever, chills,  fatigue, muscle/joint pains or headache.

COVID-19 protocol still requires testing for symptoms that are unlikely to be caused by the vaccine such as runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or loss of sense of smell or taste.

Studies have shown that the vaccines are safe for nursing mothers and pregnant women. Transmission of antibodies to babies via the placenta and breastmilk have  been demonstrated.

Which vaccine is best? The one you can get. They are all approved by the FDA and are effective. The most important fact is that they prevent hospitalization and serious infection. There is still a possibility that you could contract COVID-19 infection but it would be a much milder illness – similar to a bad cold.

Some of the unknowns are whether or not a vaccinated person could be a carrier without knowing it. Studies suggest this is not the case. However, it is still crucial to continue to wear masks and follow recommended guidelines for social distancing. 

The vaccines are recorded in the NY State Immunization Registry, you do not need to call the office with that information.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination process or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call our office in Rochester, NY at (585) 442-1421.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Teens

Most of you have probably read or heard that starting April 6th, anyone 16 years and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. That is awesome news. Currently the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 years and older, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson 18 years and older.

At this time, our office is unable to offer any of the vaccines due to ordering and administration constraints. The Pfizer vaccine can only be ordered in quantities of 1075 doses and all doses need to be administered in 7 days. It also has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (my freezer is -30 degrees). The other vaccines have to be ordered in 100 doses with the same administration requirements. I do not have enough patients who would qualify for the vaccine to be able to order them.

The vaccines will be available through all the current sites. For patients under 16,  you can explore the study described in my previous post.

Now the bad news, the number of new cases in NY and Monroe County are rising. This is not the time to relax precautions. Please Stay Calm but wear a mask, stay distanced and follow the current guidelines.

Best wishes for a Happy Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination process or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call our office in Rochester, NY at (585) 442-1421.

Stay Calm and Mourn the Passage of a Friend and Mentor

It is with great sadness that acknowledge the passing of Dr. David Shuttleworth on March 19th, 2021. Many of you will remember him as a doctor with whom I shared call. In 1981, he and Dr. Donald Frank (my pediatrician) welcomed me into the private practice of pediatrics. Dr. Shuttleworth, especially, become more than an associate — he was a mentor, a confidant and most importantly a dear friend. He will be sorely missed.

Stay Calm and Move a Little Closer (in Schools)

Great news today. The CDC has reviewed a number of studies that found distancing 3 feet instead of 6 feet in schools was equally safe. Today they have published recommendations that all schools can function with 3 feet distancing as long as masks are worn and transmission rates of COVID-19 are “low.” 6 feet distancing still remains for the general public and in restaurants and bars.  This is great news for those who have been clamoring for schools to return to more normal schedules.

Also, for those who have been inquiring about studies of the COVID-19 vaccines in children,  Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong is a study site. Two of my good friends Dr. Mary Caserta and Dr. Jennifer Nayak of the division of infectious diseases are heading the study and informed me that if you are interested you can look into eligibility at the  BringBackRoc website to click on “get started”.  Once on the sign up form t put in the child’s age and it will then populate places for parents contact info.  They are  contacting families by email, but in the last couple of days there has been a large number of sign-ups so please to be patient!

On a little more negative note, 13 states are reporting increasing numbers of cases over the past week.  In the words of Yogi Berra, “this ain’t over until it’s over” and the COVID-19 has proven to be a formidable adversary.

So, as we welcome Spring for the second time during this pandemic, let’s be optimistically hopeful, but cautiously careful.