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COVID-19 vaccine questions: Infectious disease experts respond to vaccine concerns

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is tying part of the province’s “Open For Summer” plan to the number of people who roll up their sleeves and receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.

Read more:
COVID-19: Kenney outlines Alberta’s reopening plan for summer

“You can do your part to speed up the full reopening by getting vaccinated as soon as possible,” Kenney said Wednesday, as he announced the province’s three-step plan for reopening the economy.

“Get vaccinated as quick as you can.”

However, many Albertans continue to have questions and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and if it’s safe for them to take the jab.

Global News has received a number of inquiries from viewers and readers on the topic, and we posed a few of them to two infectious disease experts from the University of Calgary (U of C) Cumming School of Medicine.

Q: I got my AstraZeneca (vaccine). A week after the shot I got an allergic reaction… I don’t want go through this again by taking my second dose. What does one do if you cannot take any other vaccines and are only stuck with one?

Anyone who experienced an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine should consult their family doctor before receiving their second dose, according to Dr. Christopher Mody, the U of C department head for microbiology immunology and infectious diseases.

“These kinds of reactions are very nuanced,” Mody said in response to the question.

“Do allergic reactions occur to the vaccine? The answer is yes. Most of those are based on the preservative that’s used.”

Mody explained that vaccines often use a compound called polyethylene glycol to preserve the shot, which can cause an allergic reaction.

“People that have a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine will have a history of allergic reactions to other vaccines,” he said.

As of May 28, 404 adverse events have been reported to Alberta Health following vaccination, including 98 allergic reactions.

Read more:
Your coronavirus questions, answered: Medical experts respond to your COVID-19 concerns

Q: Why it is safe to get vaccinated when I already have COVID-19 antibodies? What is it that vaccination gives me that having had COVID-19 did not give me?

When a person recovers from COVID-19, their natural immunity from the virus doesn’t last as long as protection from a vaccine, according to U of C infectious disease researcher Dr. Craig Jenne.

“You’ll have some protection right away, but that will fade faster than if you were vaccinated,” Jenne said in response to the question.

“We could have a scenario where you think you’re protected and in a matter of four or five months, that protection drops.”

Mody added that those who get vaccinated after being infected have a much greater antibody response compared to those who never had COVID-19.

“The antibody response is almost 10 times what it would be if you’d never had COVID and got your first dose of vaccine… It’s a smoking response.”

Click to play video: Alberta estimates  14% of citizens have COVID-19 immunity from prior infection: Kenney

Vaccines also appear to provide much better protection against COVID-19 variants, according to Jenne. He said those who recover from the virus are likely only protected against the version they were infected with.

Read more:
Hinshaw voices support for Alberta’s COVID-19 reopening plan, says success hinges on vaccine uptake

Q: Is there any information about what impact this vaccine might have on fertility? What advice should a parent give to a youngster if asked this question?

Concerns over the COVID-19 vaccine’s impact on fertility is only “theoretical” at this point, explained Mody. He said he knows of no information “where somebody has taken a group of people that received the vaccine and said that their fertility is impaired compared to another group.”

“One of the things that we’re watching closely for is whether or not any of the antibodies that are produced in response to the spike protein cross-react with any other human antibody. We would have expected that would start to emerge very quickly afterwards,” Mody said.

“It’s something that we’re looking for really closely, [but] no evidence yet.”

Jenne added that some people who were vaccinated in the United Kingdom during clinical trials got pregnant after receiving their jabs.

“The other piece though, is all of these vaccine components we’ve actually studied for years and years,” said Jenne.

“We actually know the mechanics of these vaccines quite well and there’s absolutely no signal there that would suggest this could have any impact in the future on things such as fertility.”

If you have questions about COVID-19 or any other news story, feel free to email [email protected]

Click to play video: ‘I support this plan’: Hinshaw believes Alberta COVID-19 ‘Open For Summer’ strategy will work

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