"Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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trader32176
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs: What's Up With Side Effects? Should You Still Double Mask?

4/9/21


https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandso ... ouble-mask


So you've successfully scored a vaccine — navigating your way through your local registration process and sometimes even going on a journey to find a more available supply of immunizations. Congrats! That's amazing news, seriously — especially since not everyone in the world has access to a vaccine right now.

Over a year into the pandemic, post-jab euphoria is real. More vaccinations are going around and things finally, slowly, just ever-so-slightly beginning to (I daresay) look up.

But that doesn't mean you won't have any questions about COVID moving forward. Our readers sure do. Here's what they've been asking — and what our sources have to say.

I got my vaccine and everything hurts. Is that OK? My friend got a vaccine and had no side effects. Maybe it's not working for them?

First a look at what we are all talking about: side effects.

Leading up to and immediately after your vaccination, you might be ruminating — as I was — on potential side effects that'll come along with the COVID-19 vaccine.

In fact, it's almost guaranteed that you'll be thinking about how your body will react — especially with that 15-minute observation period that follows your shot the whole thing.

Side effects are a topic we've tackled before, but as millions more get vaccinated, the questions keep coming.

Keep in mind, the side effects we're discussing here aren't the ones so serious they cause entire vaccination sites to shut down or lead to further studies on the viability of the vaccine as a whole. So, we're not going to discuss the more serious aftereffects, for instance, that have led to a temporary halt to the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Colorado recently – when more than 26 individuals faced "adverse reactions" to inoculation, including fainting. Or the concern about blood clots and AstraZeneca.

It's more the everyday things: According to Harvard Medical School physician Abraar Karan, the primary side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are those pesky, flu-like, symptoms you're used to loathing — namely, stuff like fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, joint aches, nausea and chills. Here's a full list of possible things to expect from the Centers for Disease Control.

In short, Dr. Lisa Adams, the associate dean for Global Health at Dartmouth, says that you should take your body's reactions to the vaccine as a good sign. In essence, it's proof your immune system is building a response to deal with future infections. Think of it like fighting a mini-battle to win the big war.

Those side effects will likely vary, depending on who you are and the state of your immune system. Adams explains that the because a young person's immune system is likely more robust than an older person's, more intense side effects could kick in. In most cases, side effects shouldn't be a cause for medical concern, but if you do have worries, it can't hurt to call up your primary care doctor if you have one to discuss.

In terms of when you can expect your side effects to peak: Karan says that for two-dose vaccine sequences, side effects will likely be most intense after the second dose (which, no, you shouldn't skip!). NPR's Maddie Sofia explains on her podcast Short Wave that with "that first shot, your immune system's like, 'Oh, hey! What's up? What's going on?' And that second shot was like 'Oh, you again. Watch this!'"

When exactly symptoms set in following your dose will vary from person to person, but Adams generalizes that you can expect your side effects to hit within 24 hours of your dose, and not to stretch 7 days post your vaccination. For most, it's probably not necessary to take a day off work, though employers, Adams adds, are increasingly providing flexible options, like more sick days, to encourage their workers to seek inoculation.

And you very well might need it. Anecdotal reporting on peoples' experiences after the vaccine do show that those side effects can pack a punch. (In my case, I was down for almost a full day, bedridden with chills and a complete loss of appetite.)

"Don't plan anything major for the day," Adams advises.

Be sure to stay on top of the CDC's recommendations for medication and dealing with the side effects. It's not a good idea to "premedicate," as Adams describes it, or preempt the vaccines side effects by taking an anti-inflammatory like Aspirin or Ibuprofen. The general concern is that painkillers will blunt the effect of vaccines, as some studies have documented in mice (more on that in a previous FAQ). But, it's certainly fine to do after you've gotten the vaccine as a way to manage symptoms, or if doing so was already part of your medically-sanctioned routine.

Oh, and if you don't have any noticeable side effects? As long as your vaccine was administered correctly, the vaccine is still doing its job. So you're just lucky!

"The fact that [an individual] did not see a reaction is not a reason to believe that their body did not develop an appropriate response that will be protective," Jonathan Runstadler, a professor at Tufts University's Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health told NPR for an earlier FAQ. Especially, he adds, as our bodies' tendency to react to a vaccine "varies a lot between individuals and the individual's circumstances, like where the needle went into the [patient's] arm or where in the arm the shot was deposited."

I've been double masking. Now I'm vaccinated. Do I still need two masks? Or even one?


In the realm of masking, Dr. Lisa Adams of Dartmouth points to Centers for Disease Controls guidelines, which still recommend masking and physical distancing in some situations even after vaccination.

She notes that no vaccines are ever 100% effective at totally halting the spread of disease. What they do, rather, is reduce your risk of hospitalization or death if you are infected. So for the sake of public health, you should definitely keep up your masking routine.

The biggest reason to power through your mask fatigue? Preventing high risk unvaccinated people from getting COVID-19 since even vaccinated individuals could still be infected, show no symptoms and transmit the virus, says Harvard Medical School physician Dr. Abraar Karan. But preliminary studies are showing that vaccines have the potential to mitigate the risk of infection (and thereby, transmission) itself.

As to how you should mask up: In February, the CDC recommended double-masking to enhance protection from viral particles that could infect you or those around you. Adams says that's still a good idea to keep up even after you are vaccinated.

"Wearing [one] mask is better than none, and double-masking is better than a single mask," Adams explains. "Mask fatigue is certainly on, and if for comfort reasons, people want to drop down to a single mask after vaccination, that becomes an individual decision." But the takeaway is to keep at least one mask on, she says.

And that's especially the case around high-risk populations, Karan adds. "I would keep up masking for now around high risk unvaccinated folks because we have high levels of circulating virus."
trader32176
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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Coronavirus FAQ: You're Vaccinated. Cool! Now About Those 'Breakthrough' Infections...

4/16/21


https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandso ... infections


I've been hearing about breakthrough infections in people who have been vaccinated. Should I be worried? What can I do to protect myself?


The short answer:

You don't need to worry — only 5,800 out of 66 million fully vaccinated Americans have contracted COVID-19 — but you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. Getting COVID after the vaccine is a good reminder why your vaccination card is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

The long answer:

At this point, many of us can rattle off the COVID vaccine efficacy rates by heart: about 95% for Pfizer and Moderna; 66% for Johnson & Johnson globally, 72% in the U.S. (Remember, that means your chances of getting COVID after vaccination is way less than 1%.)

"Everybody sees that the stats are not 100%, but that immediately goes out the window and people just think, 'I've been vaccinated!'" says Charlotte Baker, assistant professor of epidemiology at Virginia Tech.

As powerful as these vaccines are, no vaccines offer 100% protection in the real world, Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed out in a press conference this week. So with the virus circulating at high rates in most communities, breakthrough infections shouldn't come as any surprise.

(Once we reach herd immunity and circulation levels drop, breakthrough infections will become even rarer. When was the last time you worried about getting diphtheria or pertussis? The vaccines that prevent them have similar efficacy rates — 97% for diphtheria, and a range between 71 and 98% for pertussis — as the COVID vaccines.)

"As long as the virus is not circulating and there's a high enough vaccine immunity in the community, then the risk is minimal, but if there is ongoing transmission at high levels it's still possible to get infected," says Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of adult and pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. "So that risk is still there and as we get more people vaccinated and the community spread goes down, the risk of breakthrough infections goes down significantly."

Until a much higher percentage of us are vaccinated, then, it's prudent to continue the "big 3" precautions we've all come to know and tolerate — masking, physical distancing and washing your hands — in most public or group situations.

In addition, consider these modifications and additions once you've been vaccinated:

Count to 2. Make sure to wait until you're fully vaccinated — that's two weeks after your final dose — before taking off your mask (and then only with other vaccinated folks, of course!)

Ask the question. If you don't know if someone you'll be seeing has been vaccinated, don't be shy. "With close friends, I just ask them," Baker says. "I say, I'd love to see you soon, so let's figure out the timeline [of who's been vaccinated when]." It feels like a fair question, she says. "If you're in a group of people going to see a play or a concert [in the same car], I'm comfortable asking if they are vaccinated. And if I don't know, I wear a mask," she says. (You'll still need to wear one once you get to the event, anyway!) Of course, getting over the initial fear of asking strangers if they're vaccinated may be trickier. "In those cases you're not sure, that's when you wear your mask," she says. "If you're unsure and it's not people you know or feel comfortable asking, keep your mask on."

Pack a spare mask. Speaking of masks, find one you really like if you haven't done so already. As you ease back into society, you'll still want a mask in your purse or pocket just in case, says Baker. That way, if you need to make a pit stop at a public restroom or dart into a grocery store, you'll be prepared.

Table space. If you're dining out, opt for outdoors at restaurants where tables are spaced at least 6 feet apart (considering tossing a measuring tape in your purse or backpack along with your emergency masks!)

The outdoors is still your best friend. Keep in mind that kids under 16 are not eligible to be vaccinated yet, so if you're visiting with multiple families, consider staying outside as much as possible.

If all this sounds like a damper on your newly vaccinated freedom, don't despair: Early data shows that even if you get a breakthrough infection, you may be less likely to pass it on to others, Weatherhead notes. Also, like all the other phases of the pandemic, this one won't last forever.

The bottom line? "Enjoy yourself a little more, but don't go crazy," Baker says. "Don't go to a huge rave."
trader32176
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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I’ve Recovered From Covid. Why Do I Still Have to Mask Up?

4/16/21


https://khn.org/news/article/ask-khn-po ... o-mask-up/


More than 120 million Americans have joined arguably the most sought-after club on Earth: those immunized against the coronavirus. Fully vaccinated people were given the green light in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to gather with other fully vaccinated people or with low-risk unvaccinated people from one other household without a mask and, earlier this month, to travel without quarantining afterward. (As reports of state and local case surges mount, the CDC is increasingly urging caution.)

But what about all the people — a number impossible to count, though estimated to be in the millions — who now possess some degree of immunity because they recovered from covid-19?

The agency recommends that everyone — vaccinated, recovered or otherwise — wear a mask in public.

There is no mention of whether people who have recovered can congregate without face coverings like those who are fully vaccinated.

And, through it all, the need for masks continues to be a contentious issue. As the federal government doubles down on their importance, some states have thrown caution — and face coverings — to the wind. We decided to dig into the science and motives behind the masking recommendation.

I Beat Covid! Isn’t This Behind Me?

People who recover from the virus enjoy some immunity. The CDC says the protection lasts at least 90 days after testing positive for the virus. During that time, they do not need to quarantine or retest if they’re exposed again.

Cases of reinfection are rare. While those infected can continue shedding the virus for months after they recover, the CDC said, the amount is low enough that it is unlikely to infect others.

Given that, some have questioned whether people who have recovered still need to abide by mask mandates. Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech University who studies airborne transmission, told us there’s no strong scientific rationale for face coverings among people who have had the virus.

However, important questions remain unanswered about the level of post-infection immunity that make it advisable to continue wearing a mask, experts said. For instance, scientists have yet to determine whether people who experienced mild or no symptoms generated enough of an immune response to meaningfully shield them from getting the virus again.

Additionally, no one knows how long immunity lasts. A person could get reinfected and start spreading the virus without knowing it, said A. Oveta Fuller, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at University of Michigan Medical School.

“You don’t want to be putting virus into the environment,” she said.

What Makes Vaccines More Protective?

The covid vaccines available in the United States provide a high degree of protection from illness, hospitalization and death.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are over 94% effective after two doses. The percentage is lower for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — 72% in the U.S. These vaccines can’t be compared exactly for a variety of reasons. (Tuesday, the FDA recommended a pause in use of the J&J vaccine as reports of a rare side effect are investigated.)

So far, studies suggest the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech injections shield people for at least six months, but research is ongoing. This data is not yet available for the J&J shot.

Scientific evidence also appears to show vaccine-induced immunity is stronger than what the body generates after an infection, Fuller said. And vaccines appear to offer some protection against the variant discovered in the United Kingdom, now widely circulating in the U.S. Whether natural immunity can combat this strain or other variants is unknown, CDC spokesperson Jade Fulce said.

What could account for these differences?
Visualize the virus as a hand, Fuller said. A natural infection triggers the body to attack any part of the pathogen, including dispensable bits like the tip of a fingernail. But the vaccines are engineered to create fighters that react to the virus’s “thumb,” the spike protein that binds it to the human cell.

“We know the thumb is critical for infection,” Fuller said, “so any immunity you make against that will be more protective against infection than immunity from natural infection.”

Emerging evidence suggests the vaccines could also prevent or limit how much the virus replicates in the respiratory system, an effect that could further cut down transmission.

That said, vaccine-induced immunity comes with its share of unknowns. Vaccines have a high efficacy rate, but they are still not 100% protective against the virus. Scientists are still figuring out whether immunity from vaccines or an infection will fade over time.

Depending on how this protection dissipates, people with vaccine-induced immunity could become vulnerable to the virus again and get infected without knowing it, said Fuller. Infected people can start shedding the virus up to two days before they show symptoms, and an estimated 30% never show signs of illness.

“We’ve learned a lot” in the year since covid emerged, Fuller said. “But there’s so, so much more to know.”

A Mask Protects You, Your Neighbor and the World

When a person infected with SARS-COV-2 breathes out, they release droplets into the air that contain moisture, saliva and possibly bits of virus.

Masks work by blocking those droplets from landing in or on another person. Tightly woven fabrics can trap smaller droplets than those made with looser weaves, said Richard Sachleben, a retired chemist. Some versions also help the wearer inhale less virus.

Droplets of different sizes come with different risks, said Sachleben. Larger ones are pulled to the ground by gravity, he said, but they’re more dangerous because they carry more virus than smaller ones that linger in the air. Luckily, they’re also easier to block with a face covering.

“That’s why a crappy mask is better than no mask,” Sachleben said.

Face coverings also help stop more variants from forming, he continued, because the fewer particles are in the air, the fewer opportunities the virus has to mutate into a form that’s more resilient against humanity’s defenses.

That said, not even the best masks are 100% effective at catching and blocking every piece of virus, said Dr. Donald Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. But, when combined with other public health measures, they can meaningfully reduce viral spread.

“If you combine a mask that does a little bit on me with a mask that does a little bit on you with being outside or having good ventilation inside,” he said, “these things then add up.”

Wearing a mask also sends a message about what people need to do “to break the back of this pandemic,” said Fuller. Because face coverings protect the public from the wearer’s germs, it also communicates that the wearer cares about the community, said Sachleben.

“When you wear a mask, that means you care,” said Sachleben. “When I wear a mask, that means I care about you.”
trader32176
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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Masks Remain Extremely Effective Indoors, But Are They Necessary Outside?

4/21/21


https://www.npr.org/sections/coronaviru ... ry-outside


Scientists and public health experts agree that masks are effective at lowering the spread of the coronavirus indoors, where the vast majority of transmission is likely to occur.

But what about outside?

About two dozen states have statewide mask mandates that generally require people to wear masks outside when they're not able to stay at least 6 feet apart. Many cities have their own rules.

But with vaccinations accumulating, some health experts and journalists are arguing that now is a good time for authorities to ease up on outdoor mask requirements. Studies have linked transmission to indoor settings far more than outdoor ones, though data is limited and there are plenty of caveats.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, notes that case numbers aren't going down and they've been largely stagnant for the past month or two. But he says the situations driving it are groups of people gathering indoors without masks.

"Once you get outside, it starts becoming really, really uncommon for the virus to spread," he tells NPR's All Things Considered.

Some exceptions could involve people at packed rallies, standing or sitting close together for long periods of time. But beyond those scenarios, "there really just is not much spread happening outdoors."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview Highlights


Is there a number we can put on this? How uncommon it would be to pick up a case of COVID-19 if you were outside?

There are estimates that suggest maybe 1 in 1,000 infections happen outside. There are reasons to believe that if you just think about your risk, if you're just out and about walking around, it's probably even much less than that. So those rare instances occur in those contexts of sort of the large, packed rallies. I don't know that we've seen really any cases of somebody who was just, let's say, out for a walk or out for a run and picked up the infection that way. I think you really have to have a lot more exposure than that.

I am a jogger. ... Do we know how much the risk increases when you're breathing really hard, when you're huffing and puffing, trying to get up that hill?

I think if somebody were right next to you and spending, let's say, 10, 15 minutes running in that little stream of breath that you're exhaling, there might be a risk. But somebody you're running by who is there for just a second, the risk is — it's extremely rare.

There will be people listening to us who are screaming at their radios right now saying it's still spreading and the variants are out there and so far, most people aren't fully vaccinated. You shouldn't be having this conversation yet. What do you say to them?

I understand that first of all. But it's really important to be able to have a nuanced discussion of what is safe and what is not. Because one of the problems is if we can't have that discussion, then some people will adhere to all the rules, even ones that are not necessarily very useful, and other people will just ignore all of them.

And right now, while cases are spreading, while the variants are out there and very contagious ones like B.1.1.7 [are] really dominant, I do want people to do things that are safe. And part of that is telling people, you know, what restrictions they can let go of. And so I think it's critically important that we keep indoor mask mandates in for a while. We can't give up on those, not while infection numbers are high. But it also means telling people what they can relax on. And wearing masks outside, again, unless you're in a very, very crowded space for extended periods of time, probably doesn't do much to protect you or protect others.
trader32176
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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Coronavirus FAQ: What Does It Mean If My Ears Ring Or Toes Hurt After A Vaccine?

4/23/21


https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandso ... -a-vaccine


We've reported on some of the typical side effects many of us will experience after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Since then, some readers wrote to NPR with concerns about a whole slate of more unusual conditions they've been noticing in the aftermath of their own vaccines.

Some of those write-ins complained about hearing loss, others mentioned ear ringing, there were a few notes of vertigo, abnormal menstrual cycles and, oh, let's not forget the purple toe issue! ( Yes, we checked: "COVID toe" is indeed a thing.)

The time is particularly ripe for all such vaccine-side-effects-discourses: With the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 having been put on pause due to concerns over (rare) reports of blood clots, you might be wondering what to make of these serious and not-so-serious off-kilter cases.

Dr. Lisa Adams, the dean of public health at the Dartmouth Geisel Medical School, says in order to answer that question, we need to take a step back and be careful about our assumptions.

To start, she says, we simply don't know whether these weirder symptoms are really linked to the vaccine at all.

Unlike the much more common COVID vaccine side effects — like fever, chills, and headache — there isn't really great data about these unusual cases, Adams explains. Information about things like vertigo and ear-ringing are still being collected on a mass scale and we still can't say with certainty that these more unusual effects are causally tied to the vaccine.

That's especially since mindset may play a role, Adams explains. After getting the jab, individuals might simply be more attuned to the minutiae of how they're feeling physically — and, therefore, be prone to noticing more "symptoms," including small things that might've happened anyway.

Conversely, it may also be the case that some of these side effects do end up correlating with the vaccine — particularly as our understanding of these issues evolve and we get more data, Adams explains.

Right now, we just don't know for sure, one way or the other.

There's one more reassuring factor to keep in mind here: The frequency of these more unusual effects is pretty low, says Dr. Gomez-Duarte, the division chief of infectious diseases at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. Only a small number of individuals have reported experiencing problems with hearing and vertigo, Gomez-Duarte says, and most COVID-19 vaccinations proceed safely, with mild effects.

So how to explain the "rare" cases, as Gomez-Duarte puts it — and what to do if you yourself end up in one of these ear-ringing, head-pounding situations?

Gomez-Duarte says that normally, when a person receives a vaccine, an immune response is stimulated that directs antibodies against antigens that were injected into the body, building up your resistance to a virus. But in some people, Gomez-Duarte hypothesizes, some of that response gets directed to proteins that the individual has in the skin, or in blood vessels, or in the ears, lungs and heart.

"So there might be a sort of cross-reaction, where those immune responses recognize proteins within the individual," he explains. "If it's in the skin, you might see a skin rash; if it's in the nervous system, there might be issues with pain, or inability to move; if it's the lung, then this individual might wheeze."

Adams says contact your health-care provider if you have any questions. But there are also some red flags you should look out for that would absolutely warrant immediate medical attention: severe headache, abdominal pain, severe wheezing or swelling in legs (indicating a clot).

Gomez-Duarte also calls attention to certain skin-level symptoms — like severe bruising, or small dots that are red in color — which both might be precursors of a more severe response.

Both Gomez-Duarte and Adams agree that a lot of talk about side effects may heighten vaccine hesitancy — particularly as infrequent cases get inflated coverage.

On that front, both experts urge reassurance: For the vast majority of people, the side effects of vaccination are mild and they're worth the price of bringing a quicker end to this crisis.

Gomez-Duarte puts the bottom line simply: "What's most important is that people who are eligible for immunization get immunized."

And on a similar note, Adams encourages individuals to register their vaccine in apps like V-Safe tool if you have a smartphone. Recording your symptoms into digital databases can help public health agencies collect information about the vaccine's effects, Adams says, bringing us closer to a fuller understanding of how all of this works.

"That's truly what we need," she emphasizes. "We need to be doing surveillance [of post-vaccine symptoms]."
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Re: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions"

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Coronavirus FAQ: Is It A Big Deal If I Skip Or Delay 2nd Dose Of My COVID Vaccine?

4/30/21


https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandso ... id-vaccine


I got my first dose, and now I feel invincible! Do I really need to get the second shot?


Dr. Anthony Fauci devoted his segment of Friday's White House press briefing to the topic of second doses and summed it up like this: "Get vaccinated, and if you're getting a two-dose regimen, make sure you get that second dose."

The good news is that the vast majority of Americans who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are going back for their second dose. (Those who got Johnson & Johnson, of course, are home free after one shot.) New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 92% are getting both jabs.

"As a society we want everyone to get two, but to have 92% is really good," says Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of adult and pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine.

Compared with rates of some other two-dose vaccines, that 92% looks even better: Only 20% of those children who needed two doses of the influenza vaccine went back for the second jab, and just 75% of adults go back to get their second dose of the shingles vaccine.

More good news: Even if you miss your second appointment by more than the recommended 42-day window, you can still go back for it.

"If you were to miss the designated time interval, you should still get the second vaccine as soon as possible in order to build a stronger immune response," Weatherhead says. "The vaccine will still be available to you and still provide protection."

But the sooner you can get it after the initial waiting period, the better, she adds, because you're not fully protected in that interval period.

And here's where the more sobering news comes in: Fauci referred to a new report showing there's some confusion on the matter: Twenty percent believe that the vaccines provide strong protection before the second dose, and 36% were unsure.

"The people who are not yet fully immunized are now in the most dangerous phase of the pandemic," says Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine. "They are facing a much greater risk than at any other time. The reason for this is the variants that are circulating are far more transmissible, and the virus will look for those who are not protected."

In addition, he says, some of the treatments for COVID-19 don't work as well against the variants. A study published Friday, for example, shows that a single dose of Pfizer isn't protective against some of the key variants.

"The first dose is meant as a priming dose, and the second is a booster dose," Poland says. "When you get that second dose, you are keeping and improving the quality of your immunity. Until you get that second dose, you remain at risk."

Even though the overall efficacy rate after one dose was 80% in trials, "that will vary widely," Poland notes. "It won't be 80% in a frail 80-year-old. It might be in a healthy 25-year-old. It'll be nowhere near that in someone who is immunocompromised or on chemotherapy."

So why were some experts advocating for spreading out the first and second doses — didn't that work for the whole country of England?

When vaccines were in such high demand that the U.S. didn't have enough doses for everyone who wanted one, some experts — including Poland — championed the idea of getting as many first doses into arms as possible and then following up with second shots when they were available.

"Those conditions no longer hold," Poland says. "Our issue now is we have more vaccine than people who want it."

The only reason people may want to spread out doses is the belief that you could enhance your ultimate immune response, he says.

And while it's possible that could happen — research shows the immune response to the AstraZeneca vaccine was better after an interval of more than 12 weeks than it was at less than six weeks — it's completely theoretical for the approved U.S. vaccines, Poland says, and we don't have that luxury during a pandemic when the trade-off is not being protected between doses.

Ultimately, Weatherhead says, getting vaccinated — fully — is what will get us back to pre-COVID-19 normalcy.

And don't look for excuses to skip the second dose, the experts say. Fauci has noted that college students who get the first dose on campus can schedule their second one in their hometown if they've left school for the semester. And clinics and centers administering doses will do a mix-and-match, offering a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna to someone with proof of a first dose, even if it wasn't delivered on site.
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