Presbyterian | Your Story | Centennial Care | Fall 2021

2 There are many questions about COVID-19, vaccinations, variants, and how it all affects us. Presbyterian Health Plan would like to answer some of our members’ questions. Please see some common questions about COVID-19 and their answers below. Q: Should people who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated? A: Yes, because there’s no way to know how much of a viral load they had and what their antibody levels are. Q: What is the death rate or the percentage of people who die after getting one of the variants? How does that compare with original COVID-19? Higher or lower? A: Right now, it is not clear if the Delta variant causes more deaths than the Alpha variant (UK). Transmissibility of Delta is 50 percent higher than Alpha, which was 50 percent higher than the original COVID-19. The hospitalization rate of Delta is 85 percent higher than Alpha. It has spread across the world faster than any other variant. Q: How do we know if our medical provider has been vaccinated? A: Some providers might wear a badge or sticker. You can ask your provider if they are vaccinated. Q: I come from one of the pueblos that have stopped all traditional dances. We are almost at herd immunity of above 80 percent for all tribal members. Tribal governments are now asking: Should traditional dances go on after reaching herd immunity? A: Great job on nearly 80 percent vaccination for all tribal members! The science has not yet defined the level of herd immunity, which is also affected by the transmissibility of a virus. Delta’s transmissibility means that higher levels of the population most likely need to be vaccinated. The best way to assess safety is very low numbers of new daily cases or if COVID-19 is not spreading. Q: What is the status of vaccines for kids under 12 years old? A: Pfizer and Moderna both have research trials underway for children ages six months to 11 years old. Pfizer expects to report data in September, likely when they seek Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for this age group. Moderna has not said when they expect to share results. Q: I have family members who are not vaccinated because they are concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine. Can you speak to that? A: Right now, long-term effects of the vaccine are not known. It has been less than a year since they were approved. A few side effects of the vaccine could have lasting effects, but they do not occur often right now. The risk of complications and long-term effects from COVID-19 infection in the unvaccinated is a much greater risk than from the vaccine. Q: Is it okay for a person who takes Remicade treatments and who is immune compromised to get the vaccine and, if so, how effective is it being on this type of medication? A: It is safe to get Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- recommended COVID-19 vaccines while taking immunosuppressing medications or with immunocompromising conditions. The vaccine may not provoke as strong an immune response in people with these conditions, so they should continue following COVID-19 safe practices. Q: If getting vaccinated gives you the antibodies, then shouldn’t people who are vaccinated test positive for COVID-19? A: The vaccine can cause a positive serology (antibody) test for the COVID-19 spike protein, but this type of testing is not usually used to diagnose a new infection. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen tests look for spike proteins instead of antibodies. These proteins are present for days or weeks with infections, whereas they are only present after vaccination for one to two days. There is a very small chance of testing positive if tested in the first two days after vaccination, but any time after that, a positive PCR or antigen test would indicate infection. Q: Can you discuss for those who have had COVID-19 why getting vaccinated after having COVID-19 is important to that population? A: Studies are showing that immunity from a COVID-19 infection does not appear to last as long as vaccine immunity, especially for mild cases of COVID-19 infection. One theory is that less virus causing illness in a body produces less immune response, which may not last as long. To best protect against repeat COVID-19 infection, vaccination about 90 days after recovering from an infection offers the longest lasting protection. COVID-19 questions and answers