• A message about the Covid-19 Vaccine

    As we enter 2021, we begin a new phase of management of the COVID-19 virus.  Although 2020 has been extremely difficult, we have become much more knowledgeable about the management, treatment, and prevention of the virus.

    When it comes to prevention, several truths remain. Social distancing, masks, hand washing, disinfecting, and being aware of one’s own health status have proved to be effective ways of preventing spread.  Now there is a new weapon in our arsenal, the COVID-19 vaccine.

    There are two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, that are currently available in the US. They work the same way. The mechanism is new to us but has been under investigation for many years.  Each vaccine gives the patient the mRNA or “blueprints” for making the viral spike protein, a marker on the virus.  The body then makes a little piece of this viral spike protein and then recognizes that what it has made is foreign. It then mounts its attack.  In attacking this spike protein that it has made, the immune system will make antibodies to neutralize it. The idea is that in the future if someone is exposed to the virus and it enters the body before it can replicate and cause problems, those antibodies are ready and waiting to attack it before any symptoms even occur.

    Ideally, these antibodies and the immune response created by our body in this process would be long lasting.  Unfortunately, this is not something we can know for sure. The wonderful volunteers in the vaccine trials are only about six months ahead of the general population. We are learning about the durability of this immune response in real-time. To date, the vaccine trial volunteers have shown a consistent antibody response for about six months.  How often we get the vaccine, whether it’s every year, two years or ten years depends on how long the trial participants retain their immunity. 

    Unfortunately, there have been many myths regarding this vaccine. It is important to note that these are not true.  Some of the claims that have no medical backing are:

    1. The vaccine will change our genetic makeup.  This is not true. We only get a little piece of viral mRNA and it does not affect our genetic code
    2. It will cause infertility.  There has been nothing to show that this vaccine or this mechanism would affect fertility in women or men at all.
    3. This will cause some awful disease in the future.  There has been no evidence that this vaccine would have the potential to cause immune or autoimmune issues, cancer, or any other severe illness in the future
    4. The vaccine was rushed through.  The vaccine process moved quickly because it needed to. Thousands continue to die in the US every day from COVID-19.  Unfortunately, a slow response was not an option in this case.  This truly showed what we as a world are medically and technologically capable of doing with an “all hands on deck” response and effective funding.


    Who should receive the vaccine?

    As of right now, health care workers, first responders, long-term care residents, frontline workers, and people over 75 years old have been able to receive the vaccine.  Very soon, people 65 + or 18-65 with underlying medical conditions will be able to get the vaccine.


    Who should not get the vaccine?

    Those people who have severe anaphylactic allergies to other vaccines should not receive the vaccine. Those who have anaphylactic allergies to other things such as foods or antibiotics should have their EpiPen with them just in case but can still get the vaccine.   An allergy to a food, medicine, chemical, or environmental allergen that results in rash or GI issues is not a contraindication for the vaccine. Those who have these allergic responses may safely get the vaccine. If someone is unsure, they should discuss it with their medical provider prior to getting the vaccine.

    At this time, there is no recommendation regarding pregnant and breastfeeding women.  They have not been studied so there is no data to make a recommendation.  In the trials, there were a few participants who did not know they were pregnant and received the vaccine and have good outcomes to date. 


    What to expect:

    Most patients who get the vaccine will feel some soreness in the arm and some fatigue. Other patients may have a stronger immune response, especially after the second vaccine. The job of the vaccine is to trick one’s body into thinking it has COVID and responding as such.  This can sometimes result in fever, chills, muscle pain, and fatigue. These symptoms in most of the people that get them last from 1-7 days and can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

    Let’s move forward! Encourage family and friends to be vaccinated so that we can once again be safe together.

We Are Carefully Keeping Our Offices Open

In addition to offering Telemedicine Visits, HVA Medical Group offices are open for in-person visits. Your safety is our highest priority as we invite you into our offices. Because we are taking your safety very seriously, you will find that some things will change.

What To Expect….

  • We are disinfecting and sanitizing every exam room between patients.
  • We will require you to wear a face mask – and all of our staff will also be wearing face masks.
  • We will ask you to call us from your cell phone when you arrive outside of our office.
  • We will check you in, verify your insurance, and take your copay over the phone.
  • We will ask you screening questions when we make the appointment and over the phone after you have arrived.
  • The nurse/medical assistant will ask you questions over the phone before inviting you to come to the office waiting room. They will take your temperature and offer you hand sanitizer before bringing you directly to an exam room to see the doctor.
  • After your visit with the doctor, you may stop for labs in the office, or leave the office directly if you do not have labs ordered.
  • We will follow up with you over the phone to schedule your next appointment and to schedule any testing the doctor ordered for you.

We are taking all of these steps to keep you safe – which makes it possible to see you in person and continue to care for your health during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

For more information about COVID-19 (coronavirus), please click here https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus-2020.html and https://covid19.nj.gov/.

Videos from the CDC