I’m Mitch Timms, pharmacist at Berwick Pharmacy and we are seeing first hand how interested many of our patients are in getting their Covid 19 vaccine. Lots of questions so here are a few of them with my answers. Please come into our our pharmacies at Berwick and Eden Rise if you need further information. Both pharmacies have been accredited to administer the Covid 19 vaccine (at this stage just the Astra Zeneca) and we are waiting now for the official starting date. You’ll be able to make a vaccination booking on our websites (Berwick Pharmacy or Eden Rise Pharmacy).
I’ll answer a few common questions in this post, beginning with the older ones.
1. COVID-19 is just like a cold or flu, why do we need to keep our distance and wear masks when we will recover in a few days?
Symptoms: Whilst the symptoms of COVID-19 present similiar to the cold or flu, it spreads much more rapidly, therefore higher portions of the population are infected, including out most vulnerable (the elderly), who are more likely to have severe symptoms, hospitalisations and die from COVID-19
2. Social distance and Masks: Whilst there is some evidence to suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted via air, the majority of transmissions is through droplets in the air, these are droplets that an infected patient expells from their mouth and nose can travel up to ~1 metre, this is why 1.5m distancing helps prevent transmission. Masks aid by trapping the droplets in the mask fibres and reducing the chance of transmission
3. I’ve been told to quarantine for 14 days, but I feel fine, why do I need to isolate if I don’t have any symptoms?
Whilst you don’t currently feel sick, you may become symptomatic in the next 11-12 days post exposure to COVID-19.
Some people don’t get symptoms, or only have mild symptoms, whilst they are still infectious, this can be passed on through fleeting contact with anyone else. Staying home for 14 days protects everyone, including your closest friends and family.
4. The vaccines have been rapidly produced, they have not been properly tested!
The vaccines have gone through the standard testing and clinical trial phases as any new medicine or vaccine must go through. Most of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines have used technology that was being used for other diseases. For example, the Astra Zeneca vaccine is a reutilised technology that was in production for SARS (SARS -COV-1), considering COVID-19 is SARS-COV-2, it is not a big leap adapting the vaccine.
The clinical trials have not been rushed, in fact, the clinical trials of these vaccines have incorporated greater numbers of participants in the studies, therefore the progression from Phase 1 trials to phase 2 trials then on to phase 3 trials could be accelerated. Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials were able to overlap because of the worldwide health crisis, but no shortcut was made in the evaluation of safety, optimum dosage or efficacy.
5. Why is the government continuing to allow AZ vaccines to be administered, doesn’t it cause blood clots?
There is some evidence to show that the AZ vaccines may contribute to the Thrombosis by Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), this is a rare side effect. In fact, people who get COVID-19 infections have a higher risk of blood clotting (39 people per Million) than people who are administered the AZ vaccine (5 per million).
AZ is only slightly higher than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are 4 people per million.
6. Viruses mutate, so what is the point of getting vaccinated if its not going to work against mutated strains of the virus?
It is true that viruses mutate, however all vaccines have provided cover against all the mutated strains of COVID-19 that have been seen thus far. The mutations are not significant enough to render our vaccines ineffective
7. Vaccines don’t stop people getting the virus, even if everyone gets vaccinated, we will still have outbreaks and be put into lockdown.
Vaccines reduce the severity of symptoms associated with COVID-19, they have proven to reduce hospitalisations and deaths associated with COVID-19.
If the majority of the population is vaccinated, then ‘Herd immunity’ is acheived, then the population is protected.
This effect has been seen with other diseases that have eradicated in Australia, Polio is an example, it has been declared eradicated in Australia since the year 2000, because vaccination rates are high. In 2007 there was an imported case of polio, but this did not spread throughout the community because of the herd immunity effect of ~95% of the population having been vaccinated.
8. The government just wants to control us, that’s why we are being locked down so often
False, the government losses money with lockdowns, if people do not work, then they do not pay taxes. And the government cannot progress the community. Everyone loses.
Vaccination is our way out of lockdowns, vaccination will not prevent COVID-19 from occuring, but it will reduce the severity of infection.
I have had both doses of COVID-19 vaccine and am strongly encouraging everyone to go and get theirs as soon as they can.
I will be jabbing as many arms as I can once my pharmacy has the vaccine available.
We all need to play our part. Roll up your sleeves, if not for you, then for your loves ones, especially the elderly.
COVID-19 vaccines go through many tests for safety and effectiveness and are then monitored closely.
Source: World Health Organization