This is a weekly Q and A column written by Dr. Lydia S. Segal, M.D. in conjunction with Chaffee County Public Health. This column is focused on questions readers have about COVID-19 news and sciences. As Segal points out, ‘Everything I write today is valid for today. COVID-19 news and science are rapidly evolving, assume updates will be made”
QUESTION: A reader was fully vaccinated in February. She has heard that after 6 months or so the potency of the COVID-19 vaccines may decline. She asks if this is in fact true, and if it is, should she get a booster.
ANSWER: All vaccines slowly lose their potency. For COVID-19, the most reliable data was published this spring. The data looked at the people who participated in the clinical trials from last summer To translate into a real-world situation, about a year after the COVID-19 vaccine is given, the percent of efficacy may go from about 95 percent to about 89 percent for the mRNA varieties. This number is still quite high and she will continue to be well protected
The other main component of the immune system, the T cell system is felt to remain robust and aid in fighting infection.
As for boosters, the question as to whether she needs a booster at this point is not clear. Assuming she is healthy, she might want to wait. As well, the current vaccines appear to protect against Delta, so she might want to wait until there is a variant that is less susceptible to the vaccine she got back in February.
QUESTION: Why are the unvaccinated not getting shots?
ANSWER: People fall into several categories as to why they are not yet vaccinated. These include the hesitant who are waiting to see how others do with the vaccines or feel that the vaccines were rolled out too quickly. And there are those who are simply anti-vax and vow to not get the vaccine no matter what.
QUESTION: A reader asks, ‘My father has diabetes that puts him in a high risk group of people to get COVID-19, and get it more severely. How can I convince him to get vaccinated?”
ANSWER: It turns out that family members are the most effective motivators to convince people to get vaccinated. Experts encourage you to listen to their concerns without judgement. They also encourage you to correct any misinformation the individual might have. Find out where they are getting their information from and ask permission to provide more accurate data that will help them make an informed choice.
QUESTION: Can you tell me more about the Disinformation Dozen I have recently read about?
ANSWER: A study recently released shows that 65 percent of the disinformation that is currently being published on the web, newspapers, blog, and radio and TV comes from 12 people or organizations. They are often making money from what they are espousing. Dr. Stephen Mercola is the leading misinformation guru. Readers might want to be wary of him.
QUESTION: There is so much information out there. Who do I know who to trust?
ANSWER: Well I could say if you are reading this Q and A column you might consider that you can trust me. But who do I trust? As I have said previously, I like studies that have thousands of people in them, if possible. I like studies that ‘concur/re-enforce’ with previous studies. I like studies that are independent of financial incentives. The sites I read or listen to include: Chaffee County Public Health and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment dashboards, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the FDA, the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For more information about COVID-19, testing and vaccines, eligibility, and appointments, see the links below. Pharmacies are getting small shipments of vaccines. Information will be posted online here and on the county public health and hospital web pages.
Pharmacies with vaccine clinics:
Salida: Safeway, Walmart and Salida Pharmacy
Buena Vista: Mt. Shavano (LaGree’s), City Market, BV Drug and Valley-Wide Health,
If you have questions you would like Dr. Segal to address in a future COVID-19 Q and A column, please write to email@example.com
By Lydia S. Segal, M.D., MPH