COVID-19 vaccine: Your questions answered

Central Florida doctors answer most-frequently-asked questions

You’ve probably searched COVID-19 at least once online looking for answers to your questions regarding the vaccine trials.

ORLANDO, Fla. – You’ve probably searched COVID-19 at least once online looking for answers to your questions regarding the vaccine trials.

We interviewed Dr. Steven Smith, the chief scientific officer at AdventHealth, Dr. Latha Ganti, an ER Physician, and Dr. Bruce Rankin, Medical Director at Accel Clinical Research to answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccines in trial.

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According to Google Analytics, many uses have searched ‘Does the vaccine prevent you from getting COVID-19?’

Dr. Smith and his team at AdventHealth are currently participating in trials for the vaccine created by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and said for most people, yes. But it is not guaranteed.

“Yes, we would not approve a vaccine if it didn’t prevent COVID-19. The question is, how much could it prevent?’ If you treat 100 people and 95, who are exposed, won’t get COVID, there may be a few people who are exposed who get it anyway. What we’re looking for in the data is ‘does that mean they have a milder case than if they didn’t get the vaccine,” Dr. Smith said

How long will the vaccines last?

“We’re looking at how long it’s effective. We do a different flu shot every year, but then for a Measles vaccine, we have a long time immunity. That question has not been answered yet, but these trials are geared to look at that,” Dr. Rankin said.

What are the most common side effects?

Dr. Rankin is also a part of COVID-19 vaccine trials at Accel Clinical Research and said the most common side effects have been some pain at the injection site in the arm and mild flu-like symptoms for a couple of days.

How do the vaccines differ?

“This is the genomic era and each of these vaccines have been created using gene technology. The first two out of the gate, are called mRNA vaccines and this is a new technology that allowed Pfizer and Moderna to move really fast. They took a piece of RNA that’s inside the virus, copied it out, and synthesized it. That is given to the person with a shot and produces a protein that the immune system responds to. The next two are the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines, and those are both viruses that have been edited to show a little bit of the Coronavirus on the outside but the virus is dead, not a live virus. The third class is more traditional. It involves making protein in the lab, a tiny bit of the virus that is given to the patient,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith says most vaccines have two doses.

Should I get the flu shot this year?

“Absolutely, everybody should get the flu vaccine because you can get COVID-19 and the flu and if you get both, it will be worse than getting just one,” said Dr. Ganti.

Dr. Ganti said as we head into the winter months, she’s been seeing more sick people coming into the ER.

“The key message is that people still need to social distance, wear a mask, and wash their hands. Even with vaccine development, those recommendations cannot go away,” said Dr. Ganti.

Those doctors said through the Emergency Use Authorization, we could be seeing the first round of vaccines coming out at the beginning of December. But remember, it will only be available for first responders and high-risk groups first.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.