COVID-19 VACCINE: Dr. Mandy Cohen answers your questions

(Noel Navarro)
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 8:04 AM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - COVID-19 vaccinations are underway, but there’s still a lot of questions about who should get a vaccine and when you can get it.

We asked you on Facebook to send us some questions you have and took them to state health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen for answers.

When will the vaccines be available for everyone?

Dr. Mandy Cohen: “For this week, we are starting with folks who are over the age of 75. If you are over the age of 75, starting this week and into next week, because some won’t be ready this week, but this week and next week they’ll start with 75 and older. You can call your local health department or your hospital, that’s what you need to do. We still have a long way to go before I think vaccines are going to be widely available to folks, so you’re going to have to have patience and I know that can be incredibly frustrating. I think it’s going to be well into the spring before we’re going to have the vaccine available for folks, so hang in there. We’re going to work as fast as we can, but doses are still pretty limited.”

Will it be annual like the flu vaccine and how long does immunity last?

MC: “We don’t know the answer to either of those questions yet, we’re still learning about this vaccine. We think it potentially can have immunity for longer than a year, but the virus can change, we may need another vaccine, so we don’t know yet.”

Have we had any major reports of side effects in our state?

MC: “Not that I’m aware of. There are some side effects like a sore arm and feeling kind of crummy on the second day. I do expect on the second dose for us to see folks having a bit more side effects because you’ll have more of an immune reaction. When you’re feeling that, it means your body is actually building antibodies, which is good, that’s what we want it to do. When you’re feeling achy like you might after a flu shot, it means it’s working, so that is good. Obviously, if you’re having worse symptoms like an allergic reaction or other, we want to make sure you’re getting medical help. We haven’t seen any of that here yet in North Carolina.”

If you take certain medications, are there any precautions you should take when getting the vaccine?

MC: “Right now, there are no warnings against any medications interacting with this vaccine. I would take your medications as prescribed by your doctor as you normally would.”

If you have the antibodies or have had COVID-19, do you still need the vaccine?

MC: “We are recommending everyone get the vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID before.”

If you have additional questions surrounding COVID-19, the state has set up a hotline. You can find that information here.

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