The effort to make sure everyone is protected from COVID-19 is progressing quite well in our local area. To use Wright County as an example, 3,676 county residents have received at least one dose of vaccination. There are an estimated 9,631 adults over the age of 18 in the county. That means that 38% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19 thus far. With the improvements in the number of people immune and precautions being taken, we have seen only a couple of patients hospitalized locally with COVID-19 in the last several weeks.
Even better news is that the state government expects to receive enough supply to open vaccination to all adults (not just specific groups) on April 5th, assuming that the anticipated improvement in supply comes to fruition. With this increased availability, we also expect that vaccines will start to be available directly from healthcare providers in the local area sometime in April (rather than mostly coming through public health to maximize efficiency).
Question of the week:
I had COVID (Christmas time) and have not yet been vaccinated, would one injection be enough? Rumor is that if you have COVID, the infections will make you very ill for a couple days? Can I specify that I would want the J&J vaccine?
Answer: There is some evidence that people who have had COVID-19 previously produce a similar level of antibodies after one dose of the two dose vaccines as a person who had no exposure to COVID does after both doses. So, it is likely (though not proven) that a person who had COVID would be protected well after just one dose. I would not, however, recommend just receiving one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines that are intended to be two doses. The main reason for this is that they are less likely to be studied in a way that gives us real confidence in this strategy. It is easy to prove that antibody levels respond well but antibody levels are not the only part of the immune response and it is less likely someone will do a good study to show that previously infected individuals receiving only one dose have their immunity last as long as someone who received both doses. So it will be harder to give good advice what to do if a booster is needed at some point. All that said, since the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is only intended to be a single dose, I think you’d be well protected and it is very reasonable to get that vaccine if you have the option.
There is some early evidence that people who have had COVID may have more side effects than those who haven’t when they receive the vaccine. This makes some sense since the immune system will recognize the spike protein made in response to the vaccine more strongly than someone who has never been exposed. Even in that situation, the majority of people will not have severe symptoms after the vaccine, certainly not symptoms that last for a couple of days.