What to Expect from COVID-19 Vaccine If You Have a Chronic Condition

What to Expect from COVID-19 Vaccine If You Have a Chronic Condition

  • April 9, 2021

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If you have an autoimmune disorder, talk with a physician about what to expect from a COVID-19 vaccine. Jacob Lund/Getty Images
  • People with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms.
  • Health experts widely believe the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up.
  • People may need to work with their physician to adjust the timing of their medications around their vaccination.

Many patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms or trigger a flare-up.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up, considering how people with chronic conditions face an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19 and hospitalization.

The ACR recently released recommendations for patients with autoimmune diseases who are concerned about how they may react to the vaccines.

The recommendations explain how certain immunocompromised people may need to work with a doctor who can adjust the timing of their medications to improve the efficacy of the vaccines.

“Vaccine side effects have more to do with an individual’s immune system and the reaction of that individual’s immune system to the vaccine than their chronic disease state,” said Dr. Ramin Ahmadi, the chief medical officer for Graduate Medical Education Global LLC.

The vaccines haven’t been widely tested in people with autoimmune conditions, so the data regarding their safety and efficacy of the vaccines in this group is limited.

People who are immunosuppressed, such as those on chemotherapy or people who have had a bone marrow transplant, may mount a less robust immune response, compared with the general population, but the vaccine is believed to still provide protection.

Health experts widely believe the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risks, since people with chronic conditions typically have a higher risk of a severe form of the disease.

Patients with autoimmune and inflammatory rheumatic diseases face a higher risk of hospitalization from COVID-19.

Every person will react differently to the vaccines.

“What’s important to keep in mind is that all diseases of the immune system were not created equally. Some may impact the development of vaccine-mediated immunity, and some stand to benefit a great deal from the vaccine,” Ahmadi said.

Many patients with autoimmune conditions fear the vaccine could trigger a flare-up.

“There may be a risk of a flare-up after the COVID vaccination in some individuals with severe disease,” said Ahmadi, noting this risk is theoretical.

But the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 far outweigh any risks, experts say.

Though the data on the COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised individuals is limited, past research on other vaccines has shown that vaccination rarely causes adverse events in patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic disease.

A recent study published in The Lancet Rheumatology says that given this past data, the theoretical potential for an adverse event to occur shouldn’t be a reason to advise patients with autoimmune disorders against vaccination, especially when they are at an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19.

Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says getting vaccinated during a flare-up is generally OK.

Because steroid medications can suppress the immune system, it’s often advised that people taking such medications avoid them for 2 weeks before or after vaccination, says Cutler.

That said, you definitely don’t want to delay getting vaccinated against COVID-19, so talk with your doctor about the timing of your medications and disease state prior to vaccination.

Some of the side effects that occur after vaccination, such as fever, muscle aches and pain, and fatigue, may resemble symptoms related to an underlying condition.

The reactions can also be localized. For example, some people may develop lymph gland enlargement after vaccination, says Cutler.

“These reactions are generally mild, short-lived, and self-limited,” Cutler said.

Cutler says it’s OK to take Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain or Benadryl for itching after the vaccine if need be.

“The most important thing is getting the COVID vaccine as soon as you become eligible because this will reduce your chance of getting COVID, transmitting COVID, or experiencing any of the long-term effects of even asymptomatic COVID infection,” Cutler said.

Many patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms or trigger a flare-up.

Health experts widely believe the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up, since immunocompromised people have an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19.

People may need to work with their physician to adjust the timing of their medications around their vaccination.

Coronavirus Second Wave: Tips to Boost Your Immune System

Coronavirus Second Wave: Tips to Boost Your Immune System

  • April 9, 2021

New Delhi: We have been fighting the battle against COVID 19 for over a year now. It is crucial to boost our immune system, as it protects our body from harmful substances, germs, and cell changes that could make a person sick. Also Read – Uttar Pradesh: Night Curfew in Bareilly, Saharanpur From Today | Check Latest Guidelines Here

Rinki Kumari, Chief Dietician, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore shares a few tips to strengthen your immunity naturally: Also Read – Chhattisgarh: Raipur Under 10-day Lockdown From Today. Here’s What Allowed, What’s NOT

  • Good sleep is key: Getting enough sleep is important in maintaining a good immune system. When you are sick, simply getting adequate rest and sleep will naturally help to boost your immunity.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: It is important to maintain a good healthy diet to keep your immune system in check. One can include whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help fight against harmful pathogens. Healthy fats like those found in olive oils, salmon, etc have anti-inflammatory properties that help the body fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses. It is crucial to avoid added sugars as they increase obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart risks to name a few, thus affecting the immune system.
  • Exercise regularly: Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. Exercising regularly helps in keeping the body and mind healthy.
  • Drink lots of water: Drinking water is crucial in keeping your body healthy. Dehydration can cause several problems like indigestion, headache, physical performance, kidney function issues, etc to name a few.
  • Manage your stress levels: Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health. Long-term stress promotes inflammation, as well as imbalances in immune cell function. Multiple methods can be adapted to lower stress levels, like yoga, meditation, dance, listening to soothing music to name a few.
  • Regular health checkups: It is important to invest time and money in regular health checkups. Health conditions like asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, health diseases, etc can affect the immune system and thereby increasing the chance of infections.

Also Read – Telangana Govt Tightens Rules Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases, to Impose Rs 1000 Fine For Not Wearing Mask

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

  • April 8, 2021

Army scientists are testing whether their new COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which entered human trials this week, can serve as a universal booster shot for all other available coronavirus vaccines.

Nearly 20% of Americans have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using one of three authorized vaccines.

But with public health experts and government officials anticipating the need for booster shots down the line, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are examining whether their vaccine candidate can “mix and match” with the others to enhance and prolong protection.

The Walter Reed vaccine — called SpFN — may boost the duration and breadth of immune responses in combination with other vaccines, which are made using different technologies, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, said in an interview with McClatchy on Thursday.

“This is something that we actually started planning before the whole field started looking at this, but the rest of the field of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development is now coming to look at these issues as well,” Modjarrad said, using the technical term for the novel coronavirus.

“We think this vaccine also has utility as a booster for another type of vaccine, in addition to its role as a stand-alone vaccine,” he said, referring to the Walter Reed vaccine candidate.

Mixing and matching different vaccines has been an area of “intense investigation” for vaccine researchers over many years, Modjarrad added. But it has never been implemented before.

Two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use — produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — use messenger RNA technology, known as mRNA, which teaches human cells how to make proteins that trigger an immune response.

A third FDA-authorized vaccine for emergency use, produced by Johnson & Johnson, uses viral vector technology with which a harmless virus becomes a courier to provide cells with instructions to prepare an immune response. AstraZeneca, which also uses that technology, has submitted data on its vaccine to the FDA for review.

The Water Reed vaccine differs from those vaccines. It injects ready-made, multifaceted proteins into the body which may be able to prepare the immune system for different variants and strains of coronaviruses at once.

“When you look to other fields, like HIV or influenza, we’ve learned a lot from the research on those viruses,” Modjarrad said.

“And what we’ve seen is that when you start with a vaccine that is like a genetic vaccine — DNA, mRNA — or a virus vector, and then you come in and you boost with a protein, you get a stronger response, a longer response and a broader response, rather than coming in with the same platform,” he said.

After months of studying their vaccine candidate in different animals, Walter Reed scientists began their clinical trial in humans on Tuesday. Four volunteer participants were injected with the vaccine in the first two days. After initial observation of these individuals, the first phase of the trial will expand to 72 people, and initial results are expected mid-summer.

Modjarrad’s team designed SpFN to be a highly adaptable vaccine that can address multiple variants of the pandemic coronavirus in a single shot, and potentially provide protection against past and future coronaviruses.

The Army lab, at the same time, is researching whether its vaccine candidate can be used as a stand-alone vaccine and a booster, Modjarrad said.

“Speed is everything, so everything is being done in parallel,” he said. “We’re addressing the questions of this vaccine being used as a booster at the same time that we’re addressing the question of this vaccine being used on its own.”

Modjarrad has briefed Defense Department leadership and the federal COVID-19 response team on the vaccine’s profile for safety and effectiveness based on animal trials. They have expressed eagerness for the future findings from human trials, he said.

“I think this is a great week for us, but also for the U.S. military and global health, because this vaccine is not a repetition of other vaccines. We have always been positioning this vaccine to be a next-generation product that is thinking toward the future,” Modjarrad said. “This is what we’ve been working towards for the past year.”

Michael Wilner is a White House correspondent for McClatchy and leads coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, Wilner served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.

How to strengthen your immune system to prevent COVID-19 infections?

How to strengthen your immune system to prevent COVID-19 infections?

  • April 7, 2021
How Long Does Immunity from COVID-19 Vaccination Last?

How Long Does Immunity from COVID-19 Vaccination Last?

  • April 7, 2021

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Healthcare workers are seen at a vaccination site. Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
  • New research finds that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provide immunity for at least 6 months.
  • But since COVID-19 is so new, experts aren’t sure if immunity will wane after that.
  • Experts say more research will have to be done to understand if people will need regular booster shots for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 cases in real-world conditions, and research suggests they should maintain their effectiveness over time.

What remains unclear, however, is exactly how long the vaccines prevent COVID-19, if booster shots may be needed down the road, or if vaccines will need to be tweaked to fight against emerging variants of the virus.

In an April 2 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied almost 4,000 vaccinated healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers.

They found that the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna prevented 80 percent of cases after the first dose and 90 percent after the second dose.

The frontline workers in the study were tested for COVID-19 every week for 13 weeks.

Researchers said the dearth of positive COVID-19 tests in the study group indicates that the vaccines reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by vaccinated individuals to others.

“Reducing the risk for transmissible infection, which can occur among persons with asymptomatic infection or among persons several days before symptoms onset, is especially important among healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers given their potential to transmit the virus through frequent close contact with patients and the public,” the report noted.

“There’s more and more evidence showing that… the transmission of the virus after vaccination is likely very low,” Dr. Susan Bailey, an allergist and immunologist and president of the American Medical Association, told Healthline.

Separately, Pfizer-BioNTech said that the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial of its mRNA vaccine shows that strong immunization persists for at least 6 months among vaccinated individuals.

Researchers found that the vaccine was 100 percent effective against severe disease as defined by the CDC, and 95.3 percent effective against severe COVID-19 as defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The vaccine was also found to be 100 percent effective against one of the main COVID-19 variants (known as B.1.351) currently circulating widely in South Africa.

A study that included 12,000 vaccinated individuals also found “no serious safety concerns” with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the companies announced.

“The good news is that in the 6-month status report from Pfizer, immunity stays very strong, and we anticipate that it will continue to stay strong,” said Bailey.

“These people [in the study] have had the vaccine the longest, and it tells us it lasts at least 6 months,” added Bailey. “But it’s definitely longer than that — it’s not just going to drop off after 6 months. I would have been concerned if efficacy had dropped by a third or half.”

The fact that COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness remained almost unchanged over the span of the study period is an indication that protection will be enduring.

Bailey noted that some vaccines, such as those for measles, mumps, and rubella, generally confer lifetime immunity. Others, such as the flu vaccine, require a new shot every year.

“We don’t know which camp the COVID-19 vaccine will fall into,” she said. “If we do need a booster shot for COVID-19, we do know that it will be easy to produce” thanks to the new mRNA technology, she added.

Bailey said that the vaccines now in use appear to be effective against the COVID-19 variants circulating in the United States. But as the coronavirus continues to mutate, variants could emerge that are more resistant.

“My prediction is that a situation in which we would need to have a booster shot in the future is not because the first dose of vaccine faded but because there is a new variant that might emerge,” she said.

As noted in the research, vaccines don’t completely eliminate the risk of developing COVID-19.

A recent report on 100 COVID-19 cases that occurred in vaccinated people in the state of Washington raised some public alarm.

But experts said such “breakthrough” cases are expected and represent just a fraction of the more than 1 million Washington residents who have been vaccinated.

“Finding evidence of vaccine breakthrough cases reminds us that, even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, practice socially distancing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others who have not been vaccinated,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, secretary of health for the state of Washington.

5 Superfoods To Boost Immune System And Help You Stay Healthy Amid COVID-19

5 Superfoods To Boost Immune System And Help You Stay Healthy Amid COVID-19

  • April 6, 2021

New Delhi: Amid the rising cases of Coronavirus in the country, it’s time to pull up your socks again and be cautious. Who likes to fall sick anyway? One must ensure that their immune system stays strong. Few good habits including regular physical activity, not smoking, and reducing alcohol can help you stay healthy in the long. Having a properly functioning immune system is essential for a healthy life. Mostly, our immune systems manage to fight the disease-causing microbes but external forces like superfoods can help boost them. Also Read – IMA Urges PM Narendra Modi To Open COVID Vaccination For All Above 18 Years

Mohamad Yusuf N Shaikh, Founder Kudrati Ayurved Health Center suggests five superfoods that may boost your immunity and possibly make you guard against diseases. Also Read – Centre Urges Govt Employees Above 45 to Get Vaccine Jabs as Coronavirus Cases Peak

  • Ginger: Ginger is widely known to reduce inflammation and relieve nausea, which is why it is an excellent remedy for cold and sore throat. It also improves digestion and cardiovascular health. According to some research, it can also lower the risk of cancer. It can be consumed easily by adding it to tea and soups.
  • Garlic: Garlic is one of the best-known natural immunity boosters. Besides giving an extra flavour to your food, garlic helps in maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Moreover, garlic is rife with antioxidants, which work towards strengthening your body’s natural defense mechanism.
  • Goji berries: Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a treasure trove of nutrients. They contain vitamin B and C, essential fatty acids, amino acids along with many minerals and trace elements. Goji berries promote healthy skin, maintain blood sugar levels, prevent liver damage and reduce depression and anxiety. They are also known to prevent the onset of cancer. To make your breakfast healthy, sprinkle some Goji berries over your muesli or add them to a smoothie.
  • Chia seeds: Despite their small size, Chia seeds are packed with plenty of essential nutrients. They provide fibre, iron and calcium and are a rich source of antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are required for the production of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), which prevents heart attacks. Chia seeds can be consumed directly or by mixing in salad or yogurt.
  • Cinnamon: Besides adding a delectable smell to the food, cinnamon also serves as a great immunity booster. It is known to reduce the multiplication of bacteria inside the body and therefore, serves as a great remedy to a sore throat. Cinnamon also reduces the risk of heart disease and it can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin and therefore has an anti-diabetic effect. So, next time you go for tea or coffee, try adding a little cinnamon.

(With inputs from IANS) Also Read – After Vicky Kaushal And Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif Tests Positive For COVID-19, Urges Others to Get Tested

What To Eat Before And After Your COVID-19 Vaccine To Lessen Side Effects

What To Eat Before And After Your COVID-19 Vaccine To Lessen Side Effects

  • April 5, 2021

By May 1, all Americans will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Five states (Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, Utah and West Virginia) have already opened vaccines to all adults over 16, with others planning to follow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, side effects of the vaccines can include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as possible fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, chills and muscle pain. These symptoms are actually a good sign that your body is building immunity, and they will usually pass in a few days (if they do not, call your doctor), the CDC advises.

But there are small steps you can take to lessen those side effects, and many of them have to do with your diet.

Helpful foods and beverages for dealing with vaccine side effects

Obviously, it’s not fun feeling under the weather for a few days, which is especially possible after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. “Budget for adequate rest and sleep when taking the vaccine, and maybe going easy on exercise,” advises Dr. Ronald Hoffman, a New York City integrative physician. Beyond that, he said, there are some simple do’s and don’ts in terms of food and drink.

Do: Try ginger tea for nausea

Ginger has a reputation as an excellent and safe traditional remedy for gastrointestinal complaints. Ginger tea is easy to make, and a simple recipe can be found here.

Don’t: Fast or do anything “drastic like juicing or detox”

“The development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet,” Hoffman said.

Do: Hydrate with healthy fluids

From water to tea to your favorite flavored sparkling water, drink up. The fever a vaccine may induce can lead to dehydration.

The Mediterranean diet places an emphasis on healthy fats, such as those found in salmon.

The Mediterranean diet places an emphasis on healthy fats, such as those found in salmon.

Do: Eat a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet

Try to start eating especially healthy a few weeks ahead of your appointment for a vaccine. A Mediterranean-style diet is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, but it’ll take a few weeks to kick in.

“Preconditioning your body for a few weeks beforehand makes more sense than just being abstemious in the immediate aftermath of the shot,” Hoffman said.

The diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats (like those in olive oil), fish, poultry, beans and eggs. Dairy and red meat are limited. One study found that individuals over 65 years of age who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day had a stronger immune response to a pneumococcal vaccine than peers who ate two servings or fewer.

Do: Consider eating a low glycemic index diet for at least a few days after the vaccine

A low glycemic index diet will keep your blood sugar steady. Research centered around diabetes has shown that lower glucose levels tend to be anti-inflammatory. In general, foods that keep blood sugar at healthy levels include green vegetables, most beans, whole grains and multigrain breads, fruits like berries and apples, and of course healthy lean proteins, eggs and nuts.

Do: Turn to that favorite remedy of all time, chicken soup

A nice healing broth with many well-cooked veggies is easy to digest and nourishing.

Do: Fine-tune your gut health to increase your immune response

Across the human population, immune response to vaccines varies. Some of this depends on age — as we get older, our immunity wanes. Some of it depends on individual variation. And some of it depends on the type of vaccine you receive.

An important aspect of vaccine response, and of immunity in general, is a healthy gut microbiome, said Dr. Todd Born, a naturopathic physician and certified nutrition specialist in Washington. Not only are vaccine responses variable, but Born said that a healthy gut microbiome has been shown in scientific studies to increase immune response to vaccines.

“A diverse and healthy microbial community in the gut will influence the immune system directly,” Born told HuffPost.

Born recommends a high-fiber diet and fermented foods, and to “start two weeks before the vaccine and continue for a minimum of two weeks after.”

“Fiber-rich diets encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that support the immune response,” he explained. And fermented foods ― from yogurt and kefir to kimchi and sauerkraut ― can help enhance the gut microbes that support immune response.

Studies have actually shown that some common probiotic organisms, such as lactobacillus rhamnosus, can improve the antibody response to vaccines. This and other healthy lactobacilli can be found in products in your supermarket ― these include kefir, yogurt, and some fermented beverages.

Born also likes a homemade “immune support” soup, which he often recommends to patients during cold and flu season. He recommended adding chopped onion and garlic, grated ginger, juice from half a lemon, fresh minced parsley and one grated carrot to a quart of miso, chicken or mushroom broth. Simmer for 15 minutes and add the parsley and lemon juice at the end.

While you sip that nourishing soup and let your immune system do its work, play some uplifting music and make a gratitude list. Thirty years of research has shown that stress, depression and loneliness can impair the immune system’s response to vaccines.

So, nourish your body with healthy food and drink, stay hydrated, rest well and be of good cheer. You’ll be giving your immune system the best chance to respond well to the vaccine and to recover quickly.

How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?

How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?

  • April 4, 2021

“A year ago I tried the Moderna vaccine to see if it was safe. (Spoiler: It is!) Now, on my #COVIDvaccine anniversary, I’m happy to share that I just got a 3rd dose. This booster experiment will reveal (1) if strain-adapted vaccines boost immunity & (2) whether they are safe,” Haydon, a communications specialist at the University of Washington, said via Twitter last Saturday.

“It’s unclear whether this new tweaked version is even going to be necessary,” Haydon told CNN in a telephone interview.

Doctors are worried that coronavirus may end up being like influenza, which requires a new vaccine every year both because the circulating strains mutate fast and because immunity from the vaccine wears off quickly.

Although initial evidence suggests immunity from vaccination against coronavirus provides long-lasting protection, vaccine makers have begun making and testing versions of their vaccines that protect against worrying variants of the virus. That includes the B.1.351 version first seen in South Africa, which carries a mutation that, in lab experiments, appears to allow it to evade the human immune response a little.
The latest report from vaccine maker Pfizer shows people in South Africa who got its coronavirus vaccine after B.1.351 became the dominant circulating virus were still very strongly protected from infection — something that backs up laboratory experiments that have shown the vaccine causes such a strong and broad immune response that it provides a cushion against any effects of mutant viruses.

“It is still matched enough that we have good protection,” said Scott Hensley, an immunologist and vaccine expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

US coronavirus vaccine rollout becomes 'less messy'

But vaccine makers are not taking chances. The trial Haydon is taking part in is testing not only a third dose of Moderna vaccine tweaked to protect specifically against B.1.351 — that’s what he got — but a third dose of original vaccine in some volunteers, too, to see if the boosted immune response is both safe and provides an advantage.

A report out last month from Pfizer suggests people who get both doses keep strong immunity for at least six months. Experts have been at pains to point out that doesn’t mean immunity stops at six months. It means that’s the longest volunteers in the trials have been followed to see what their immunity is. It’s likely to last much longer, Hensley said.

“I would not be surprised if we learned a year from now that these vaccines are still producing a strong immune response,” Hensley told CNN.

“I would not be surprised if this is a vaccine that we only get once.”

Covid-19 reinfections are rare, but more common in people 65 and older, study finds

That would make the vaccine more akin to vaccines against measles than flu vaccines. Vaccination against measles protects against infection for life in 96% of people.

Protection from Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine remains above 91% even at six months, according to the company. It has released the details in a statement, not a formal scientific publication, and the data covers only a few thousand people. But if it holds up, that’s an indication that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines elicit a long-lasting immune response, experts say.

Hensley says the technology used by both vaccines — delivery of genetic material known as messenger RNA of mRNA — is especially potent.

“The antibody responses elicited by these mRNA vaccines are incredibly high. What we know in animal models with other mRNA vaccines that have been tested previously — we know that those antibody responses are incredibly long-lived and they don’t drop over time,” said Hensley, whose lab has been testing experimental mRNA vaccines for years.

Single Pfizer vaccine shot provides strong protection for those who've had Covid-19, UK studies suggest

While the coronavirus vaccines are of course new — the virus has only been around since the end of 2019 — the mRNA technology has been studied for many years and used to make vaccines against influenza, Ebola and Zika virus.

Several studies have indicated this with coronavirus vaccine.

In January, a team led by Dr. Alicia Widge at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases wrote the New England Journal of Medicine to say their research showed two doses of Moderna’s vaccine produced plenty of antibodies that declined only very slightly over time. The vaccine also caused the body to produce immune cells known as T cells and B cells that can keep defenses going for years. The vaccine-induced immune response was stronger and less variable than the immune response that follows a natural infection, they found.

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine in February showed blood taken from people who got Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine continued to produce an immune response against B.1.351.

Moderna, Pfizer test vaccine strategies against new variants

“Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against Covid-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant,” Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at University of Texas Medical Branch, told CNN at the time.

Nonetheless, last month, South African virologists argued that there’s growing evidence the vaccines being developed do not work as well against B.1.351 and urged vaccine makes to start tweaking their formulas now.

Although he’s taking part in clinical trials that require regular blood draws to check his immunity, Haydon has no idea how well protected he is from the virus.

“I know that early on in the trial, myself and all the participants did develop neutralizing antibodies — the kind that you are looking for. That was clear many, many months ago,” Haydon said. “But the level of those antibodies, and how the levels have changed over time, is not something that I’m told. That is one of the main things that is being evaluated over the study.”

Lab studies suggest Pfizer, Moderna vaccines can protect against coronavirus variant

He had a strong reaction to the first round of vaccination and said the third dose he just received caused some effects, too.

“Flulike is the right way to describe my symptoms,” he said. “I ended up with a fever, chills, a little bit of nausea, headache,” he added.

Immunologists say that’s a sign the immune system is responding to the vaccine, although people who report no symptoms also develop an immune response, so the symptoms do not appear to suggest someone’s having a better response than someone who doesn’t develop a fever.

Haydon doesn’t know whether his response this time around says anything about what level of immunity he still had from the first dose he was given a year ago.

What he does know is that he cannot behave as if he is completely immune. So he still wears a mask whenever he goes out and has avoided almost all travel.

“We’re living in a world where most people aren’t vaccinated. The fact that you yourself are vaccinated doesn’t change everything for you,” Haydon said.

“We still have to take a lot of the same precautions as an unvaccinated person,” he added. Although your risk of going to the hospital is greatly diminished, spreading the virus is a major concern. It’s not until recently that we started to collect data (showing) that vaccinated people also spread the virus a lot less. So that’s a recent discovery and a very good sign.”

More Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccines Expected in Broome

More Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccines Expected in Broome

  • April 1, 2021

Broome County has just been approved to send medical technicians into homes to vaccinate the home-bound not enrolled in home healthcare programs against COVID-19.

County officials say the Community Peri-Medical Program will start giving one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the elderly in their homes.

One-dose vaccines were given over the past few weeks to homebound residents who are enrolled in Lourdes at Home and UHS at Home programs.

Several area residents have asked about when they might be able to get the single dose Jenssen Johnson & Johnson shot instead of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna, which has primarily been offered through the Broome County Point of Distribution at the SUNY Broome Ice Center.  Only one clinic, on March 17, had the J&J vaccine for the eligible general population.

Officials explain, the Johnson and Johnson shot, which doesn’t have to be kept in special, extremely cold freezers, has been directed primarily to programs where it is more difficult to get to a patient or for a patient to return for their second shot.  That could be the home-bound, county jail inmates who frequently aren’t held long enough to get the first dose then the second dose 28 days later or more rural areas where transportation is an issue.

Broome County Public Health Director Rebecca Kauffman says, however there could be some Johnson and Johnson shots available to the eligible general public as early as next week.  Keep checking the county website for vaccination clinic schedules.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

All you need to know about the vaccines – Monash Lens

All you need to know about the vaccines – Monash Lens

  • April 1, 2021

How many vaccines are there?

There are two currently in Australia, but others are available internationally, and potentially eventually here.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by the Australian medicine regulator (the Therapeutic Goods Administration) are the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (Tozinameran) and the AstraZeneca vaccine (AZD1222). They’re both derived from new technologies that are well-suited for responding to emerging epidemics.

How do they work?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. Every cell in our bodies produces their mRNA naturally. Its purpose is to deliver instructions for our cells to create a diverse range of proteins necessary for everyday function and survival.

The Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine is produced synthetically and is delivered into our cells using a tiny fatty coat (a lipid nanoparticle) to protect and deliver the RNA.

The AstraZeneca vaccine uses DNA as an instruction instead of mRNA. The DNA is coated in a harmless common-cold virus from the chimpanzee (Chimpanzee Adenovirus Oxford, or ChAdOx) to deliver the DNA into our cells.

Both vaccines carry the instructions to make an antigen called the spike protein. Antigens make antibodies in the immune system. In a virus, this protein helps it enter our cells. In vaccines, it’s produced without any other viral parts.

Once the instructions reach our cells and the antigen is made, then our immune system is trained to recognise the antigen, so when we’re exposed to the actual virus, our trained immune system stops the virus from infecting us.

A mRNA starnd, with a COVID-19 vaccine vial in the foreground

Is one better than the other?

The most up-to-date data has shown Pfizer/BioNTech to be 90 to 95% effective, and AstraZeneca up to 79% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. However, it’s important to remember that the efficacy studies were not identical in design, so making direct comparisons is difficult.

Both vaccines protect exceptionally well against severe infection and hospitalisation in the most prevalent variants of the virus found here in Australia (for example, the “G-variant” also known as D614G). It’s really important to note that the vaccines may not have the same effectiveness against new viral variants (such as the South Africa variant).

More research is needed to understand how vaccines prevent hospitalisation against new variants. For these reasons, our public health system must maintain close monitoring on those variants from all overseas arrivals until further research or an alternative vaccine is made.

Are they safe?

Yes. Both vaccines have excellent safety profiles, and most side effects are mild. Importantly, their benefit far outweighs any of the mild symptoms they cause. In very rare circumstances, the vaccines can cause an allergic reaction.

We have systems in place if any allergic reactions occur after administration.

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There has also been some discussions overseas about the potential for the AstraZeneca vaccine, in very rare cases, to cause blood clots. The data to support this suggestion is not strong, with reviews concluding that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks, and the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots. For the most up to date information, visit the Therapeutic Goods Association website.

Why do I need to get jabbed twice?

For any new viruses, our immune system lacks the training needed to fight the virus. The first injection trains our immune system to develop the necessary immunity. The second shot boosts that immunity to generate protective antibodies at a level higher than the infection.

In addition, having those protective antibodies at a high level appears to protect us for a longer period of time.

How do I get vaccinated?

The current vaccination program is staged according to priority. People with the highest risk can receive the vaccine first. The stages of the vaccine rollout are here. Trained doctors, nurses or pharmacists perform vaccinations, so please contact your local GP or pharmacist when your stage is ready for rollout. The Age have mapped participating GPs here.

Do I have to be vaccinated?

No, currently vaccination is not mandatory, though most people are expected to be vaccinated. There are some health-related exceptions for people with pre-existing conditions.

For example, those people may suffer from immune diseases that compromise their immune system. Please contact your local GP or pharmacist if you’re unsure.

A high percentage of community vaccination is needed to protect the population from outbreaks and viral spread. This is called herd immunity. And it’s our shared responsibility to take the safe vaccines to protect our communities and loved ones.

Why is this “herd immunity” so important?

Herd immunity – with lots of people vaccinated – will be vital to live with COVID-19. Herd immunity is the level of community immunity against a virus, by vaccination. It resembles a shield with the goal to stop community outbreaks.

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Higher herd immunity means the community is better-protected from the spread of COVID-19. That means that even if a member of the community is infected with COVID-19, there would be no major outbreaks, as the community will shield itself against the spread.

Will there be another coronavirus pandemic, and will the vaccines still work?

Coronaviruses are common viruses that cause a range of diseases, from mild common cold to severe respiratory syndromes.

Novel or new coronaviruses have emerged in humans at least three times in the past 20 years. With constant pressures such as climate change and increased animal habitat destruction, coronaviruses and other viruses will likely emerge in the future.

The short-term challenge is to ensure that our current vaccines will work against emerging variants of COVID-19, or to produce a strain-specific vaccine.

A 2021 COVID vaccination sign

Is the Australian rollout working efficiently?

It’s faced some setbacks and challenges, as the rollout of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has not caught up to the original timeline. But with the local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL and Seqirus currently at maximum capacity, it’s expected the rollout will be close to meeting the proposed finish date of October.

Many challenges remain ahead to meet the target, but locally-produced vaccines will certainly help.

Are the vaccines imported, or are we making them here?

Australian CSL-Seqirus manufacturing will produce the vast majority of our AstraZeneca shots. The majority of Australians will receive this vaccine. But the Pfizer/BioNTech (mRNA) vaccine is manufactured overseas and imported into Australia. Currently, Australia cannot manufacture mRNA onshore.

Will there be better vaccines in the future?

Yes. There’ll be new generations of vaccines that will improve on the current vaccines. We at Monash have an mRNA vaccine program at our Parkville campus, and others around the world are continuously developing new vaccine technologies.

In the context of COVID-19, new vaccines will be targeted towards new variants and mutants that are emerging.

Improvement in the technology, particularly mRNA vaccines, will likely produce vaccines with high effectiveness but lower doses and fewer injection side effects.

Vaccines to target mutant strains are already in development or trials, particularly against the South African and Brazilian variants.