Q&A: Addressing Resident Concerns Surrounding COVID-19 Vaccines--Part 2

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This is a continuation of the previously published “Q&A Blog: Addressing the Concerns of Our Residents Surrounding COVID-19 Vaccines Part 1”. This blog post further overviews questions that residents may have and provides answers to address those concerns.

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Will I safely be able to visit my family and friends after the vaccine is released?

Depending on the efficacy and availability of the vaccine, it may be possible to ease back into “normalcy” and visit friends and loved ones. As the vaccine is rolled out and cases decline as more individuals are immune, the chances of getting infected with COVID-19 is also reduced. It is important to note that even if a vaccine is proven to be highly effective, there is still always the possibility of vaccinated individuals becoming infected with COVID-19. Caution should still be considered, especially if family members are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Are clinical trials experimenting on elderly people? My friends have told me that the trials are rigged for success.

As older individuals are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, the majority of pharmaceutical companies have made it apparent that they have included sufficient sample sizes of patients over the age of 65 years in their Phase 3 trials. For example, Novavax aims to enroll individuals over the age of 65 years for at least 25% of its Phase 3 trial patients. Johnson & Johnson announced that they are aiming for a significant representation of 65+ individuals in their vaccine trial population. This is important in order to gain pertinent data about the effectiveness and safety in the elderly population. In addition, each company has made their trial protocol available to the public through sources such as clinicaltrials.gov. This can increase transparency of the vaccine development process and affirm the absence of bias in the design of these trials.

Will this cure my COVID if I get infected?

The therapeutic goals for these vaccinations are to prevent patients from contracting the disease. By taking these vaccinations, your body’s immune system will hopefully elicit immune responses and create antibodies, which will protect from future potential COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, this means that vaccinations will not help to cure current COVID-19 infections.

Prepared in collaboration with graduate students from Keck Graduate Institute (Claremont, CA): Kaljit Atwal, Paola Montes, Joseph Nguyen, Alice Wen