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The COVID-19 Vaccine: Q&A with Dr. Doug Drevets

The COVID-19 Vaccine: Q&A with Dr. Doug Drevets

Photo of a nurse administering the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Goddard Health Center.

To help answer some of the big questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, we went straight to Dr. Doug Drevets, Chief of the Infectious Diseases Section in the OU College of Medicine, to address some of the most common questions about the vaccine.

Q: Why is it important for individuals to get the vaccine when it’s their turn in the rollout plan?
A: It is important for individuals to get the vaccine when it’s their turn so that they can be fully protected against the virus as soon as possible.  

Q: Do you have to receive both doses of the vaccine to be protected from the virus?
A: You have to receive both doses of the vaccine to develop the best protective response. If somebody only receives one dose of a two-dose series, their immunity against the virus will not be as strong, or last as long, as if they had received both doses.   

Q: If I have received the first dose of the vaccine, can I still contract COVID-19 before receiving the second dose of the vaccine?
A: It is possible to contract COVID-19 between the first and second doses of the vaccine. Interestingly, however, numbers of cases of COVID-19 between first and second doses were higher in the placebo groups than in the groups that received the actual vaccine. This indicates that the first dose does have a positive effect.

Q: If I have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and social distance?
A: Yes. After receiving both doses of the vaccine, people must continue to wear their mask and practice social distancing until the cases have decreased to a much lower level.  

Q: Can I still spread COVID-19 after I receive the vaccine?
A: There is a clear possibility that people who have received both doses of the vaccine can still spread COVID-19 to other people. This is being studied, and we hope to have more information about this in a few months.  

Q: Will the vaccine protect against the new variants of COVID-19?
A: The current vaccines will protect against many of the viral variants now being discovered. It is likely, however, that some variants will not be completely protected against, and a booster shot may be needed in the future.  

Q: Is it safe to get the vaccine if I have recently tested positive for COVID-19?
A: People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should still get the vaccine. You just want to wait long enough so that you are not contagious to anybody before you receive it.

Q: As different groups get vaccinated, when does the impact of the pandemic begin to lessen in a way that everyone begins to reap benefits?
Because of the phased distribution plan by which the vaccines were given in the rollout, we will start seeing benefits in different groups of people at different times. For example, we should be seeing decrease rates of infection in health care workers now. By vaccinating individuals over the age of 65, we hope to start seeing decreased numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in this age group soon. These are benefits that everybody can be thankful for.

Q: How fast does the vaccine take effect and provide protection against COVID-19?
In the studies of the mRNA vaccines, there was a detectable effect within two weeks of receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Nevertheless, people need to receive both doses in order to receive the full benefit of the vaccine.

Q: What would you tell people who are nervous about or reluctant to get the vaccine?
It is understandable that some people are nervous about getting the vaccine. Nevertheless, the mRNA vaccines have been given to more than 20 million people in the United States already, and the vaccines are indeed quite safe and effective.

Dr. Drevets headshot

Dr. Doug Drevets

Article Published:  Wednesday, January 27, 2021