Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott: May 3 Update

Posted on 04/30/21

OK Dr Prescott May 3 2021 Update

Dr. Stephen Prescott, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president, answers your medical questions about coronavirus, COVID-19 and vaccinations.

How long do the vaccines last?
“Our understanding of this is only as old as the earliest clinical trials, and so far the data is very promising. In the case of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, the latest studies show antibodies last at least six months. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials started later, so the data for that vaccine is not as far out. Trial participants are still being monitored, and we’ll know more as time goes on.”

Will we need a booster or second shot?
“It appears likely that we’ll need boosters, either because immunity fades or because of virus variants. Boosters are already in development, and trials with a third dose of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are underway to better understand whether this improves long-term immune response.”

If I have been fully vaccinated, is it safe to travel?
“Yes, but precautions are still in order even if you are fully vaccinated, which means two weeks from your final shot. With the virus still in wide circulation, wear a mask when you’re in public places, practice good hand hygiene and continue physical distancing. When I travel, I plan to also get a Covid test after returning home.”

If I have been fully vaccinated, is it safe to visit with my grandchildren who have not been vaccinated?
“Safety is relative. If you are fully vaccinated and no one in both your and your grandchildren’s home are at a high risk for severe Covid-19, you should feel comfortable visiting your unvaccinated grandchildren and their vaccinated parents. Children can carry and spread Covid-19, so it’s wise to be cautious. You can reduce risk by continuing to wear masks or visiting outside where transmission is very unlikely.”

Is it okay to spend time with family and friends mask-less if we have all been vaccinated?  
“Yes. Small groups of fully vaccinated people can gather safely. It’s wise to continue avoiding large, indoor gatherings.”

If I have been vaccinated, do I have to worry about variants?
“The variants are a cause for concern for all of us, as a variant that can evade the vaccines remains a possibility. Thus far, the vaccines have performed well against the predominant variants. That’s great news.”

Can I still get the virus if I’ve been vaccinated?
“Yes, it’s possible, though you are very unlikely to become severely ill or die if you are vaccinated. No vaccine is 100% protective against disease. But the Covid-19 vaccines are some of the most effective vaccines ever developed, and ‘breakthrough’ cases of people who become ill are presently proving to be extremely rare.”

My mom is concerned that when the shot was approved, it was approved for emergency use. She is concerned it is not safe and was rushed through the process. What would you say to her to give her reassurance?
“The Covid-19 vaccines moved through the development timeline at an accelerated rate, but scientists were not starting from scratch. Many vaccines had been in the works already in some form for other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS that never reached the global pandemic stage. That gave researchers a jump on a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and it helped make the rapid timetable more feasible. Tens of thousands of people participated in the vaccine trials, and no corners were cut for safety. The threat of severe illness or death from Covid-19 is much more dangerous than one of the vaccines.”

AARP and coronavirus
AARP has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it spreading to others. AARP is compiling facts and resources about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself. We’re updating this information as rapidly as we can to ensure our AARP members have the information they need at www.aarp.org/coronavirus. Learn about the vaccine distribution plan in Oklahoma at www.aarp.org/okvaccine.

This story is provided by AARP Oklahoma. Visit the AARP Oklahoma page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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