Every person 16 years and older who want to get a vaccine is now eligible in California.
Last week, we asked KSBY viewers on social media to send us your vaccine questions. KSBY's Nina Lozano sat down with a local doctor to get answers.
Dr. Jim Malone is the Chief Medical Officer of French Hospital Medical Center.
Nina Lozano: If you already got the vaccine, can you still get COVID?
Dr. Jim Malone: The answer is yes. Even if you get the vaccine you can still get COVID. We know that even with the vaccine, people can have asymptomatic infection although we think the risk of that is fairly low... What we do know is it strongly protects is getting really ill from that. certainly decreases the risk of ending up in the hospital and for some of the vaccine data 100% effective in preventing death.
It is important to note that no vaccine of any kind (flu, measles, etc.) provides 100% protection against infections.
NL: (From a viewer), "I'm wondering if the people who get a reaction had they not gotten the vaccination were the ones that would have gotten COVID really bad? The people who didn't have a reaction were the ones more likely to be asymptomatic if they came in contact with COVID had they not gotten the vaccine?"
Dr. Malone: There is no correlation whether or not somebody had side effects or the degree of protection nor the duration of protection that they may have.
NL: Do we know any of the long term effects of the COVID vaccine injection?
Dr. Malone: So far there's been no long term safety signals. The challenges is that vaccine really has only been out there, even in clinical trials, for less than a year so far...
Over time, studies will continue to evaluate the vaccines' safety and long-term effects.
NL: Do I need another booster shot 6 months after my second dose? How long is it effective?
Dr. Malone: What the current science tells us about the duration is we know it's at least 6 months, probably 9 months is the current thinking... Probably the bigger reason to consider booster shots is not so much that we expect the immune response to be so ineffective that you should contract COVID. It has probably more to do with the fact that there are a number of variants of COVID-19 virus.
NL: A mom who is nursing a newborn is asking if the vaccine might affect her breast milk and if the vaccine is safe for her to take?
Dr. Malone: Pregnant women were excluded in trials initially because of safety which is common in medical trials. There were women who got the vaccine and subsequently found that they were pregnant. In those small data sets there were no safety signals there or any adverse reactions with the mom, baby or breast milk. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has come up pretty squarely saying it's important for moms to receive the vaccine because they can become much sicker with COVID-19 and can experience serious consequences from infection. Any small risk that might be present from the vaccine, is likely to be much less than the complications from COVID if they were to contract it.
NL: Can you still transmit the virus even after you're vaccinated?
Dr. Malone: There's some data that suggest that is possible. But there's some data available that the amount of virus that would be present even if a vaccinated person got infected would be less... We can start to do more things. but it's not a free ticket to potentially expose those who are at high risk.
Additional studies are underway that would give us a better answer to some of your questions.
What the CDC knows is everyone, including those who have been fully vaccinated, should continue to practice safety precautions like wearing a mask.