Verifying the vaccine: What's a myth and what's fact?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Health experts advise that the emergency use authorization of Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine could be exactly what the US needs to get the pandemic under control.

However, there could potentially be some side effects or even small risks for adverse reactions to getting the vaccine, according to health officials. For some though, that risk could be even greater.

“We know that when a person gets vaccinated that that person is far, far less likely to have COVID,’ Allergist & Immunologist Christina Barnes, M.D said.

Christina Barnes, M.D is an expert in allergy and immunology at The South Bend Clinic. When it comes to getting the vaccine, most of the population is safe to do so, according to Barnes.

“The vast majority of people,” Barnes said. “There were people who had heart problems included in the trials, people who had asthma, COPD or emphysema.”

The vast majority, though, does not mean everyone.

“A lot of immunosuppressed people were not included in the initial vaccine studies, so we don’t know quite as much about that group of people,” Barnes said. "We don’t know if it’s, you know, how they tolerate it, but more importantly really they don’t really know how it will work quite as well.”

For immunosuppressed people wondering if you should get the vaccine, it is on a case-by-case basis, according to Barnes.

“It depends on what the condition is,” Barnes said. “It depends on what medications are used for instance, for some autoimmune conditions the medications that are used to treat those suppress the immune system further. So it’ll be a question for that person’s doctor specifically.”

As more and more people with compromised immune systems get vaccinated, Barnes expects that health officials will learn more about this group of people.

Barnes said the two healthcare workers in the United Kingdom who had an allergic reaction to the new Pfizer vaccine had a delayed reaction.

"So, if a patient has had a reaction in the past to one of the components, one of the parts that's actually in the COVID vaccine, then of course they shouldn't get that,” Barnes said.

For those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any other vaccine, Dr. Barnes advises people to speak with your doctor. For those with food or pet allergies, you are typically safe to get vaccinated, according to Barnes.

Despite an approved vaccine rolling out across the country, there is still a risk.

“Because until we get, you know, about seven out of 10 people vaccinated, it’s not quite going to be enough to really say that we’re going to be done with this pandemic,” Barnes said.

Community spread is still a risk, even among those who are vaccinated, according to Barnes. Barnes said though it is far, far less likely to catch COVID-19 if you get the vaccine, if a person does test positive it is likely that person would have little to no symptoms at all, but you could wind up passing it along to someone else.

“So that’s another reason it’s very important that we all continue to do our masking and social distancing and hand washing and avoid groups,” Barnes said.

As for when the general population will get vaccinated, it depends on each individual state and the plan for that state, according to Barnes.

Michiana health officials expect the general population to be able to get the vaccine by the spring.

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