Q&A: Your coronavirus vaccine questions answered

AdventHealth Central Florida chief science officer answers most commonly asked vaccine questions

ORLANDO, Fla. – Coronavirus vaccines efforts are underway in the first priority groups in Florida. With a new vaccine people have a lot of questions about when it will be available and any side effects.

Dr. Steven Smith, Chief Scientific Officer for AdventHealth Central Florida, helped answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Find his answers below.

[RELATED: Here’s how to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida]

How long after first dose do you start building immunity?

Dr. Smith: We had a chance to see all of the data from the FDA advisory committee from these two vaccines ... first off both vaccines require two doses are really important. The question you have is an interesting one, it appears that for both vaccines somewhere between 10-14 days after the initial vaccination you begin to see effects to prevent symptomatic COVID cases, that’s quick but again that second dose is really important.

Do I still have to wear a mask after getting the first dose? Second dose?

Dr. Smith: Yes and yes for the first one, and that’s because the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid. They are roughly 95%, that means 1 person in 20 is still at risk for catching Covid out in the community.

The second reason is we don’t know how long the immunity is going to last that is why the community is ongoing to follow people over time and answer how long the vaccine will last.

When do I have to get the second dose for Pfizer? When do I have to get my second dose for Moderna and how exact do I need to be when getting my second dose for both Pfizer and Moderna?

Dr. Smith: (The) Pfizer vaccine is recommended 21 days after the first shot. The Moderna is 28 days after the first shot. There is no hard and fast science when that booster needs to be given, plus or minus a few days is reasonable.

Do I need the second dose?

Dr. Smith: When you look at the curbs placebo treated they are very effective from that first dose, but the booster is really important that second dose. The reason for that is to stimulate the immune system so you have persistent immunity. We may not be able to have second doses in the summer or fall if you miss your second dose the first time around. We want to make sure we know people are vaccinated and that it is long lasting.

In administering vaccines at AdventHealth, have there been any adverse reactions?

Dr. Smith: We had the advance warning from the two cases that occurred in the UK on their first vaccine day. We had plans in place to handle anaphylaxis at all of our stations. I’m happy to say we haven’t had to implement those protocols at this time. We know this produces concerns for people who had reactions to other vaccines previously or those who carry epi-pens around with them, and we are recommending consultation with their specific physicians.

What have been the most common side effects seen at AdventHealth?

Dr. Smith: I think everyone has been complaining feeling soreness in their arm and that’s the most common thing I hear about, for me I had a headache the following day. I rested and it was gone.

I definitely encourage everybody to go and get the vaccine, I think that’s all people are feeling what I felt, I see no reason to be concerned or alarmed.

When the vaccine will be available to the public?

Dr. Smith: We are happy to hear these questions because that means people want to get vaccinated. Right now, AdventHealth’s supply is not sufficient to provide to the general public. We are making plans now to have processes and infrastructure in place so when there is a dedicated supply to give vaccines to more people we will be ready. To be clear AdventHealth is not providing vaccines to anyone today outside of the frontline team members who work at our facilities. We look forward to the day when there are enough vaccines dedicated to inoculate the public but we are not there yet.

When will I be able to go about my life as normal? Do normal activities?

Dr. Smith: That relies on your viewers in the community, it has two parts to this the willingness that we need to do to keep the curves. We need to do the social distancing we need to wear our masks.

It really depends on people taking vaccines over the next 3 to 4 months and if you have a concern about a vaccine go talk to a healthcare provider and a trusted individual and if you want to go read, go read.

It’s important to understand the two vaccines we have today are really incredible. These are A+ vaccines you couldn’t have written on paper a vaccine like this in July and have anyone believe we would have vaccines this effective.

The real hope for me as one of my colleagues told me there is a sense of relief people feel positive and encouraged after seeing a vaccine because it really is a manifestation on how we are going to get out of this pandemic.

I’m optimistic that certainly by spring we will see a dent in this hopefully sooner if people will social distance.

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