PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Many people in the community have several questions about the COVID-19 vaccines that they want answered.
News 13 had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Amer Malik, the chief medical officer of Ascension Sacred Heart Bay, and we asked him a few common questions.
If I have tested positive for COVID-19, how long should I wait to receive the vaccine? Dr. Malik: “Normal recommendations that we have from the CDC is 90 days after having COVID-19, you should get vaccinated. The reason for that is very simple– when you do get infected, you produce your own antibodies. In that duration of time, if you get vaccinated, you can have a reaction where you can get sicker than normal. However, you should get vaccinated even if you have had COVID in the past, because getting COVID does not guarantee you what level of antibodies you’re going to get in your system, how much protection you’re going to get and for how long.”
To follow up from the previous question, what are the chances of reinfection if you’ve had COVID-19 in the past and are not vaccinated? Dr. Malik: “Anybody can get a second infection. And this is a virus, it’s no different than any other virus that can infect you. There are no specific numbers out there because we do not know what kind of protection you are going to get from the first infection. For a second infection, you can get it based upon how severe the first infection was and how good your antibody response was. There is no data out there to support what the chance is of getting a second infection at this point in time. The CDC is still working on that.”
Why are the second-dose side effects usually worse than the first? Dr. Malik: “The first dose gives you information for your cells to produce antibodies. When you get the second dose of the vaccine, the cell is already primed to know that it’s going to produce the antibodies. The response to produce the antibodies is much quicker and much faster. As a result, you feel it more: fatigue, tiredness, inflammation, low-grade temperatures, muscle aches and joint pains that can come with it. That’s just because you have memory cells waiting for a response and to boost their immunity. That’s why the second dose is given… So that your response, when the actual virus comes into your system, is much more prominent.”
What happened with the Johnson & Johnson halt? Dr. Malik: “There were a few cases, a very small number, of having blood clots in the legs. That led to the FDA looking at what the incidents of those occurrences were. And after extensive studies, they determined the risk of getting a blood clot is extremely small compared to the benefits you’re going to get from the vaccine. So as of the 21st of April, that statement has been made, and people can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine without having the fear of getting a blood clot.”
What is the concern about children receiving the vaccine? Dr. Malik: “At this point in time, the vaccine has not been approved for anybody younger than [12 years old]. There are ongoing studies. Because they’re in the ‘growth phase,’ we want to make sure all safety concerns are addressed before these vaccines are approved [for younger children].”
What would you say to people who are hesitant about getting the vaccine? Dr. Malik: “So the question would come down to, what would you like to get? The vaccines have very small side effects of muscle soreness, joint pain, low-grade temperature… Or would you like to have the actual disease? Which, at this point in time, can kill anyone. We have seen more than half a million deaths in the U.S. The benefit of the vaccine outweighs any risk you’re gonna concur by not taking the vaccine and getting the disease itself. My recommendation is to get the vaccine. Do not second guess it. It is for the benefit, and can save your life and save the lives of other people.”
“There’s a lot of conversation in the community about people on the fence about taking the vaccine. My recommendation is you’re doing it not just for yourself, but you’re doing it for your family members, you’re doing it for your community members and you’re doing it for everyone else around you. You don’t want to be the reason that somebody gets hurt, and you don’t want to be the reason that you leave your family in this world because you didn’t take precautions. So please take the vaccine.”