JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From grandchildren and grandparents having to wait to see each other to guidelines that seem to constantly change, many people have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and when life will get back to normal.
So News4Jax turned to Duval County Medical Society Foundation President Dr. Sunil Joshi for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Question: If I am exposed to COVID-19 after getting the first COVID-19 vaccine shot in the series, do I need to quarantine?
Answer: “Yes, you should quarantine and follow the guidelines that we’ve been doing for the last few months,” Joshi said.
Question: What about if I’ve had the full series?
Answer: “If you’ve had your second dose, and it’s been at least two weeks since you got it, and you’re exposed to someone who has COVID-19, now you no longer have to isolate,” Joshi said.
Joshi added it takes about two weeks after the second dose to get the immunity.
But, if you develop symptoms after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, it’s recommended you get tested and isolate.
Question: Does getting the vaccine mean I can’t get COVID-19?
Answer: “That doesn’t mean you still can’t get it. Just like with a flu shot, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get the flu, but your chances of having a severe illness will significantly lessen, and that’s what we’re thinking will happen with COVID,” Joshi said.
With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being 95% effective in protecting against the virus, the chances of someone getting it is drastically lower.
But wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands regularly are still highly recommended even if you’ve gotten the vaccine.
Question: If I got the full vaccine series, when can I hug my grandchildren?
Answer: “That’s a good question. Right now, getting the vaccine series doesn’t change anything in the terms of the typical guidelines. So we’re still supposed to wear our mask and still supposed to be social distancing and staying 6 feet away from people that we typically aren’t typically exposed to. Why? We don’t know how well it’s protecting us in terms of duration of protection and how it’s working on this new variant. So while you are in a much better spot because you have the vaccine, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can be hugging and touching people who may be at risk,” Joshi said.
Question: How long after my protection against COVID-19 last after I’ve gotten the full vaccine series?
Answer: “At least for 90 days, so we’re assuming it might be out to five months. But much like the flu shot protects you for five to six months, this vaccine is probably protecting us for that same time period. So in the fall, we may need to reassess,” Joshi said.
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting three variants of the coronavirus, a booster shot could be needed.
Question: Why is there such a shortage of the vaccine?
Answer: “The vaccines do take time to make. It’s not like a pill that a manufacturing plant can just produce, produce, produce. These mRNA vaccines are highly technical and do take time to make,” Joshi said.
The good news on that front: The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to vote on an emergency use authorization on Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine at the end of the month.
Question: If I’ve had COVID-19, do I need to get the vaccine?
Answer: Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had a COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.