DETROIT – As the first vaccinations are being given to frontline health care workers, many are anxious to know more about the vaccine.
FDA reviewers noted four cases of Bell’s palsy -- a temporary weakening of muscles in the face -- among those that received the vaccine. It is still unknown if this is related to the vaccine or not and -- as of Dec. 16, 2020 -- a prior history of Bell’s palsy is not a contraindication to the vaccine.
The FDA is monitoring closely for more potential cases of Bell’s palsy as more people get the vaccine.
“Is it safe to get the vaccine if I have...?”
Viewers are concerned particularly if they have epilepsy, atrial fibrillation, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions.
Based on the trials that have been done, there is no specific disease or illness that makes the vaccine unsafe or would be a contraindication to receive it. While that is a very broad statement, everyone should discuss their specific situation with their doctor and keep an eye on developments as the vaccine is more widely administered.
“If the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both MRNA vaccines, why is there a difference in what temperature the vaccines needs to be stored at?”
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at almost 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Those are requirements from the manufacturer and are related to proprietary information they have on what the most stable temperature is for their vaccine.
Although both vaccines are MRNA vaccines, there are differences in the genetic sequences used and the coating used to get the MRNA into our cells.
“Do all hospitalized patients with COVID-19 receive the same care as the president did when he was hospitalized?”
With the exception of one medication, yes. President Donald Trump received a monoclonal antibody cocktail from Regeneron prior to it receiving an emergency use authorization. Based on the current Emergency Use Authorization, it is now only indicated in people who are not hospitalized and do not require oxygen. Based on that, he would no longer have qualified for that drug.
“Given that there could be multiple vaccines soon -- which is the best?”
The current best vaccine is whichever one you can get. Over time, there will be more data on each vaccine, but there will be ample supply that we can make decisions based on effectiveness, particularly in specific groups of people -- like youths and the elderly, but that’s a ways off.
Questions about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge