Local doctor explains how the COVID-19 vaccine works

Local News

Dr. Munir Shah is a disease specialist at Trumbull Regional Medical Center

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The development of the COVID-19 vaccine is a step in the right direction but getting the vaccine doesn’t mean a person is completely immune from disease.

Typically, a vaccine is made by taking a small protein from the virus itself and then given to an individual in a small dose so their body can create antibodies, which normally takes about two weeks for any vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control said none of the COVID-19 vaccines in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

“The body does produce enough antibodies, so in the future, if you get an infection your body has enough antibodies to fight the virus back,” said Dr. Munir Shah, a disease specialist at Trumbull Regional Medical Center. “So, either you have very, very mild symptoms or you may not have any symptoms of the infection at all.”

The plan with the COVID-19 vaccine is to give individuals one vaccine and then another on the 21st day after the first vaccine was given, which will help bolster the receiver’s immune system.

Shah said within seven days after the second vaccination the body should have enough antibodies for 90-95% protection from the virus.

“The first dose you get you start producing antibodies. Once you already start producing antibodies, by getting the second dose, your immune response or antibody production goes much faster,” Shah said.

Dr. Shah said the vaccine is an important step to fighting the coronavirus, but people who receive the vaccine should still maintain social distancing, wear masks for the next six to eight months, so they don’t get the virus or spread it.

Right now, it isn’t clear how long the antibody response will be from the new vaccine.

“If you look at the history of vaccinations in the last 30 to 40 years, we have developed so many vaccines,” Dr. Shah said.

He added that vaccinations have helped control or in some cases eradicate diseases such as measles, mumps and smallpox because of the effect that vaccines have.

“Vaccination is very effective and the most effective way of controlling the spread of this infection, and everyone should definitely get vaccinated,” Dr. Shah said.

He recognizes that not everyone should get the vaccination, especially those with certain allergies or health conditions but says those that can should.

“I know the first vaccine is available for healthcare workers and for some high-risk patient population,” Dr. Shah said. “Hopefully, by June or July it should be open to everyone in their community about age 16. We are looking forward to it. Hopefully, in the coming fall we will not have this problem of COVID-19.

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