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vaccine

COVID-19 and The Vaccine: 6 Things You Should Know

COVID-19 Recap

The virus is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. As of March 2021, there have been over 110,000,000 cases confirmed globally. With various COVID-19 vaccines now readily available throughout most of the United States, new questions fill our daily conversations as we all try to navigate the ongoing pandemic.

1. What symptoms should I look for if I suspect COVID-19?

These symptoms, or combinations of symptoms, generally appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may prompt you to suspect you have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Congestion or sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

While this list is not all-inclusive, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you develop any other symptoms that are new, severe, or concerning to you.

2. Can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine if I am currently sick with COVID-19?

No.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are currently experiencing symptoms, it is not recommended for you to receive the vaccine. It is important to wait to be vaccinated until you have recovered and have met the following criteria:

  • It has been at least 10 days since the symptom started
  • It has been 24 hours since you have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications
  • All other COVID-19 symptoms have improved

This recommendation also applies if you get COVID-19 before getting your second dose of vaccine.

3. Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. 

None of the current COVID-19 vaccines or those in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine teaches our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Like the flu vaccine, the vaccination process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Typically, it takes our bodies a few weeks to build up protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. It is possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

4. If I have an underlying health condition, should I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes.

Vaccinations are an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Any mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions if they have not previously had any severe or allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Speak with your healthcare provider if you have further questions about your eligibility and any further questions you may have before receiving the vaccine.

5. After receiving the vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. 

Neither the recently released COVID-19 vaccines nor those currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on a viral test, which is a test done to assess a current COVID-19 infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccines, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests.  Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

6. Once I have received a COVID-19 vaccine, do I need to continue to wear a mask?

Yes.

The current COVID-19 vaccines do not provide 100% protection. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, both a two dose vaccine, offer 94% to 95% protection against symptomatic infections. The Johnson & Johnson’s single dose Covid-19 vaccine is now available and offers  85% efficacy against severe forms of Covid-19 and 100 percent efficacy against hospitalization and death.

Currently, there is no way of knowing who will not respond to the vaccine and whether they will still be at risk for contracting COVID-19. To reach herd immunity, 50% to 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated.

While the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available are considered highly effective and a step in the right direction, it will be important to continue masking and following social distancing guidelines. By doing so, you can help reduce the spread of the virus and its impact on our healthcare system.

Takeaway

As the COVID-19 vaccines bring the pandemic under control, there is hope for a return to our daily lives, it may just look like a new normal. If you have questions regarding any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, make time to visit with your healthcare provider so that you can ask questions and make an informed decision. Social distance and wear a mask when unable to maintain social distancing in public places or if you are around people who do not live in the same household, and most importantly, Stay Safe.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html

https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/covid-19/about-covid-19

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963

thanksgiving

Family Health and Gatherings Amidst a Pandemic

‘Tis the season to gather, make memories with family & friends, and share great food. The rising cases of COVID-19 will make gatherings look a little different this year. It is important to take precautions and be safe while gathering this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great resource available to help you with tips to stay safe this year. When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pies! Did you know that Thanksgiving is also National Family History Day? It is a great opportunity to learn more about your family’s health history. Read on to learn more about staying safe this holiday season and learn more about your family health history.

Learning About Your Family’s History

Family gatherings are a great way to learn more about your heritage, learn about your family history, and any health issues previous family members have struggled with. Even if you are social distancing this year, find creative ways to collect this information.

When talking to your family, write down the names of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Discuss any conditions they have had and what the diagnosis was. Sharing chronic health conditions can be difficult, be sensitive to this information and make your goal clear, to prevent any health conditions from developing if you can avoid it.

Ask Questions

To find out more about the chronic conditions in your family, it’s important to ask a few questions. Make a list ahead of time before gathering virtually or in-person this Thanksgiving and start with some examples such as:

  1. Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes?
  2. Has your healthcare provider been concerned you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  3. Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
  4. Approximately how old were you when these health conditions were diagnosed?
  5. What is your family’s ancestry? What countries or regions did your ancestors immigrate from?
  6. What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?

Start with these questions and go from there. This is a great start to learning more about your family’s health history. Make sure to record this information, share it with your extended family, and update as you gain more information.

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is also National Family History Day

Follow-up and Act

After learning about your family’s health history, then follow up with your healthcare provider. Talk to your healthcare provider about the next steps to take, future lab work, and what early screenings to consider. Time could be of the essence; some conditions will require specific screenings such as health histories that include:

  • Colon Cancer
  • Breast or Ovarian Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Chronic Blood Pressure Issues
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s
  • Dementia
  • Osteoporosis

Staying Safe at Gatherings

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of November 23, 2020, there are approximately 58,425, 681 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As cases continue to increase rapidly across the world, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate virtually. If you gather, do so with people that live in your immediate household. Remember, you can collect your family’s health history virtually, stay safe, and still enjoy a nice feast! If you decide to host a gathering or attend a gathering elsewhere, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Host an outdoor meal, weather permitting, or make sure there is good ventilation in your gathering space
  • Limit the number of guests in your home, or ask how large the group will be
  • Set expectations with your guest as to the precautions you will be taking
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in your home
  • Limit the number of people preparing food, or pitch in and support a local restaurant and have your meal catered

Encourage your guest to wear a mask when the mealtime is over, hand washes, or use sanitizer often. Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry. Wearing a mask and social distancing can ensure everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Takeaway

This Thanksgiving, remember to be grateful for your health and family. Take advantage of a ZOOM gathering to connect with relatives in other cities, states, and countries! Start the conversation early and make it a yearly tradition to discuss any new health conditions before having your annual celebration.

Fact Check Sources:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Gathering During the Holidays

Family Health History Resource