What our Clients are Saying About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Posted in News on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

What our Clients are Saying About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Since the rollout began in late December, roughly 130 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given, and nearly 45 million Americans — about 14% of the population — are fully vaccinated. President Joe Biden recently announced all Americans will be eligible for the vaccine no later than May 1, making it likely that people will be able to gather in small groups for the 4th of July — a big step forward considering health experts begged Americans not to congregate for holiday or Super Bowl parties over the winter.

This is the best news regarding COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared last March. However, there are still some people wary of getting vaccinated and others who are refusing to take it, believing it went through testing way too fast and concerned about safety. This, of course, is a personal choice entirely up to the individual — but we thought we would turn to some of our expert clients to shine a light on the COVID-19 vaccine.

How Does One Vaccine Differ From the Next?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three COVID-19 vaccines for Emergency Use Authorization status: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

In his blog, How Different COVID-19 Vaccines Work and How They Affect COVID-19 Testing, Peter J. Plantes, M.D., a physician executive with our client hc1, explained the difference between them.

Moderna and Pfizer insert mRNA, or a Messenger RNA. These vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 — rather, the mRNA instructs our bodies to create what is known as a spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The body views these protein particles as foreign and our immune system helps manufacture antibodies to combat the spikes. Consequently, people who receive these vaccines will have the presence of COVID-19 antibodies without having been exposed to the virus, and these antibodies also offer up protection against future waves of COVID-19 particles. These vaccines are given in two separate dosages — 28 days apart for Moderna, 21 days for Pfizer.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine — as well as Oxford-AstraZeneca, which hasn’t yet been authorized for use in the United States — uses an adenovirus, which is the virus that causes the common cold. The adenovirus carries a gene into the human cells that produces the coronavirus spike protein — but not the virus itself. The body’s immune system then makes antibodies to these spike proteins. Johnson & Johnson is administered through a single shot, though the vaccine is going through trials to see if it will more effective when spread over two doses.

Safe for Cancer Patients

Cancer is one of the underlying conditions that increases the risk of a severe illness from COVID-19. Thankfully, the vaccine is safe for cancer patients, said Melody Chang, Director of Pharmacy Operations for our client American Oncology Network.

In her blog, The COVID-19 Vaccine: Safe For Cancer Patients?, Chang writes that “cancer patients and survivors of all ages are encouraged to get vaccinated whenever they can.” The vaccine is even safe for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, though patients receiving very intensive cytotoxic chemotherapy, such as 7+3 regimen for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), should wait until their absolute neutrophil count (ANC) recovers before getting the vaccine.  Those receiving bone-marrow transplants or cellular therapy such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy should wait at least three months after their therapy has been completed.

“COVID-19 is highly contagious, so it is important that caregivers also be vaccinated in order to mitigate the risk of exposing patients or loved ones to infection,” Chang writes. “It is safe, too, because receiving a vaccine will not turn a caregiver into a carrier.”

Do the Research

There are many questions concerning the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. Fortunately, there is a lot of good information out there as well, allowing anyone to make an educated decision when it comes to whether they choose to get vaccinated.

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