By Beatrix Lockwood
NEW YORK (Reuters) – An unprecedented COVID-19 vaccination campaign is underway and tens of millions of people are now vaccinated in the United States and around the world. Dozens of vaccine candidates are still under development, bringing hope to end a global pandemic.
As part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series, Reuters invited a group of health experts to discuss what you need to know before getting vaccinated.
Below are the edited highlights.
How do different vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 and its complications? How long will they provide immunity?
“COVID-19 vaccines reduce complications by causing the immune system to generate antibodies and T cells that prevent the virus from causing damage. The duration of immunity is not known, but I think more than a year. “
– Amesh Adalja, Principal Investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective for people with serious illnesses, such as cancer?
“Anyone who is wondering if the vaccine is right for them should talk to their health care provider. In general, vaccines have been shown to be very safe, and we know COVID is not, especially for people at high risk. “
– Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, Senior Director and Regulatory Advisor at the Association of American Medical Colleges
What are the expected side effects of a COVID-19 vaccination?
“Side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the injection arm, nausea and vomiting, and fever. When I received the first dose of Moderna vaccine, I felt like I had been punched in the shoulder for about 24 hours.
– Dr Joseph Petrosino, Director of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine
Will emerging coronavirus variants, such as those first seen in the UK and South Africa, affect the effectiveness of the vaccine?
“While current vaccines seek to protect against newer variants, one consequence is that the faster spread of these variants requires more rapid deployment of vaccines to limit the extent of subsequent waves of infection in the spring and summer. 2021. “
– Josh Schiffer, professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
When do you think the United States will get collective immunity? What about on a global scale?
“There are big problems for global herd immunity – even if the United States achieves broad coverage, due to vaccines stored by rich countries, much of the world will not. Seventy countries will only be able to immunize one in ten people this year. Without change, it means an ongoing pandemic. “
– Matthew Kavanagh, assistant professor of global health and visiting professor of law at Georgetown University; Director of the Global Health Policy and Policy Initiative at the O’Neill Institute
Can you discuss the importance of access to vaccines, especially in low income countries?
“Access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all across the world is of critical importance. It is our moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that this happens. As many have said throughout this pandemic, we are not safe until the whole world is safe.
– Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, infectious disease researcher
What do we know about the effects of the vaccine on pregnancy and reproductive health?
“Several agencies recommend that vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant or breastfeeding women who otherwise meet the criteria for vaccination. Speak to your supplier if you have any questions or concerns. As a breastfeeding mother, I got the vaccine.
– Dr Syra Madad, Senior Director, Special Pathogens, New York City Health & Hospitals
What gives you hope now?
“I actually cried when I saw the data on Pfizer vaccines. It has been a difficult year for all of us, but knowing that this disease is preventable and will be prevented, it has put a strain on my shoulders.
– Joshua Wolf, infectious disease physician at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
(Editing by Lauren Young and Alistair Bell)