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COVID-19 vaccines | State and local health leaders share their recommendations

Things you should be mindful about
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 11:38 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - State and local health experts tell WSAZ there are two big reasons to avoid getting a COVID vaccine if you’re currently, COVID positive.

WSAZ reported on Wednesday that a 36-year-old woman had passed away due to COVID-19 complications. Her family tells WSAZ she had just received the first dose of the vaccine days before she started feeling symptoms and tested positive. She also had underlying health conditions. The family said they don’t believe her getting the vaccine had anything to do with her death but understandably, there have been a lot of questions about the vaccine.

That’s why WSAZ took some of those straight to health experts:

What should people know before they get the vaccine or look out for?

“If you have active COVID or you have COVID currently, especially if you’re symptomatic with a fever, you shouldn’t get the vaccine right now,” said Dr. Sherri Young with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “We will save a dose for you and you can be vaccinated out of that acute phase.”

Dr. Young said for those in quarantine or with possible exposure but still test negative, you can still receive the vaccine. She just asked, if you are registered at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to get your doses, you let them know so they can have a team come out to your car as a safety measure.

Why should people not get vaccinated while they currently have COVID-19?

“Number one, they can infect other people and we want people to stay isolated during that immediate infectious period,” West Virginia coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh told WSAZ.

He said the second reason people should not get vaccinated while currently having COVID-19 is because it could lead to a reaction.

“The issue is you might respond more vigorously, have a local bad arm reaction, feel crappy for longer,” he said, “so it’s really just a way to minimize those responses.”

But Dr. Marsh said, the vaccine would still work and should not be deadly if received while someone is currently fighting the coronavirus.

Both doctors say this isn’t unique to COVID-19 and people should avoid vaccines as a whole when feeling under the weather.

“Anytime you have a fever or are actively ill, it’s not the best time to be getting that vaccine,” said Dr. Young. “So we’ll help walk you through that process if you shouldn’t be getting that vaccine or if you’re not feeling great at that time, put it down the road a little bit.”

Why should people wait 14 days between receiving the COVID vaccine and another immunization, like the flu shot?

“You don’t want to have another vaccine, whether it’s flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, (or) any of the routine vaccinations, you don’t want to have within fourteen days of getting your COVID vaccine. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet and you’re not on a waiting list (for the COVID vaccine), this is a great time to get a flu shot but if you’ve had a vaccine within the last fourteen days, you shouldn’t be receiving the COVID shot,” she said.

Dr. Young said the reason is so the body can focus on building an immune response to the COVID vaccine, which typically takes about two weeks. She said allowing your body time will not overwork the immune system or confuse it. And, in the event of a reaction, they’ll be able to track which vaccine caused it.

Should I wait a certain number of days after getting over COVID-19 before receiving the vaccine?

Dr. Marsh said no and here is why:

“We know that you have immune responsiveness from the native infection for about three months so there really wouldn’t be any hurry. I mean, if it just turned out that right after you finished getting COVID that you had an opportunity to get the shot, then fine get the shot.”

However, Dr. Marsh said the temporary antibodies acquired from having COVID-19 may actually be more beneficial than receiving the shot itself.

“People (who have had) COVID have both the immune response to protect the nose and the mucus membrane, which keeps them from being (able) to infect other people,” he told WSAZ, “and people that just get the vaccine may not have that mucus membrane and nose so they could potentially (still) infect other people as well.”

What happens after receiving the vaccine?

Dr. Marsh said due to the antibody not impacting the nose and mucus membrane, there is still a chance someone who is vaccinated could infect someone who is not.

“Which is why we tell people who just got the vaccine if you’re around other people, who haven’t gotten the vaccine, you should always wear a mask because you could communicate COVID to other people possibly.”

“You do get some protection from the vaccine after the first dose but it’s still also possible to catch COVID between the first and second dose so you have to take those precautions,” Dr. Young said.

Dr. Marsh said even if you’re vaccinated with COVID-19, the vaccine will still work and should not be life-threatening.

If someone has received artificial antibodies as treatment, they should not receive a COVID vaccine within 90 days of the treatment, according to Dr. Young.

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