A panel of Kansas City infectious disease experts provided informative guidance on the coming COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 100 KCMS members on a December 5 webinar.

Panelists were Kevin Ault, MD, FACOG, of the University of Kansas Medical Center and a member of the CDC Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices; Sarah Boyd, MD, infectious disease physician with Saint Luke’s Hospital; and Mary Anne Jackson, MD, FAAP, FPIDS, FIDSA, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and professor of pediatrics. Daphne Bascom, MD, PhD, of Saint Luke’s Hospital was the moderator; she also is chair of the KCMS/KCMS Foundation Wellness Committee which organized the webinar.

Dr. Jackson emphasized the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and the confidence that patients should have in them. “There has been no sacrifice in the process of developing these vaccines. The integrity of the clinical trials has been pristine,” she said.

She explained the six vaccines coming online comprise three types. First will be the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, a new type of vaccine that involves coding the RNA. Next will be viral vector, followed by protein subunit. More from the CDC on the three vaccine types.

“It looks very reliable that we can create antibodies, and these antibodies will protect the patient.” She added that the new mRNA vaccines have been especially effective so far.

Other topics addressed by the panelists:

Vaccines

  • About 17% of patients experience a sore arm or high fever with the second dose of the vaccine. Dr. Boyd emphasized to tell patients that these reactions are normal—it is your body creating the antibodies.
  • While health care workers will be the first to receive the vaccine, Dr. Ault suggested staggering the administration within hospital units so not all workers are experiencing sickness from the vaccine reaction at the same time.
  • To help track how patients respond to the vaccine, the CDC has developed an app called V-Safe, which will soon be launched. Patients will be able to enter information about how they react to the vaccine. Dr. Ault strongly encouraged health care workers to sign up for the app when it is introduced.
  • Subpopulations such as those who are HIV positive or have type 2 diabetes should work with their physicians in monitoring data on subpopulations as it becomes available.
  • Pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine with their physicians. Additional guidance will become available.
  • People who have had COVID-19 should get vaccinated; it will help increase their antibodies. Research is still being done on how long to wait after being infected before receiving the vaccine.

Testing

  • People who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 should wait 5-7 days before being tested to allow time for incubation.