Even people who've had COVID should get the vaccine, medical...

Even people who've had COVID should get the vaccine, medical experts say. Credit: TNS/Dreamstime

A Stony Brook University webinar last week brought together three experts to explain development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. In a question-and-answer session, the panelists — Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University; Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital; and Dr. Bettina Fries, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Stony Brook Medicine — provided answers to commonly asked questions.

Can I mix and match vaccines?

No, if it’s a two-dose vaccine, your second dose must be from the same vaccine as the first.

If I get vaccinated, can I still spread the virus?

No, you should not be able to spread the virus. We do not at this time have the data from the different studies about how soon after you receive the vaccines (both doses) that you will be immune to the virus.

How long will immunity last?

That’s unclear. Scientists don’t know whether the vaccines will need to be boosted in a year. Some vaccines last a lifetime, but it’s possible that people will have to be re-immunized. Current data suggests that the immune response you make to the vaccine includes both short- and longer-term antibody production.

Will people who had COVID-19 also need to get a vaccination?

All of the vaccine studies to date have included people that may have had COVID but didn't know it. We have not seen any risk of adverse events or safety concerns from any of these study participants. Essentially, all individuals should strongly consider getting a vaccine, even if they have already had COVID.

Does Long Island have the cold storage capacity required to warehouse vaccines?

Yes, Stony Brook Medicine has the capacity to hold millions of doses, even at the -80C required by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Will the vaccines be safe for young children and pregnant women?

Some of the companies have started studying children but a more robust look at children across the ages is needed. Studies in pregnant women are in the planning stages and are expected to roll out by the end of first quarter 2021.

When the vaccine is distributed, at what point can Long Islanders stop wearing masks?

If the public readily accepts the vaccines, it could be safe to go without a mask by next summer or fall.

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