Why should I trust the coronavirus vaccine when it was developed so fast? A doctor answers that and other reader questions

Pharmacist Jessica Sahni prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in New York City. Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images
Editor's note: With a coronavirus vaccination currently in progress, you may have questions about what this means for you and your family. If you do, send them to The Conversation and we will find a doctor or researcher to answer them. Here Dr. Lana Dbeibo, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, asked readers questions about the vaccine and weakened immune system, as well as whether or not to get the vaccine if a person has previously had side effects from a vaccine.
I fully support the use of vaccines, but I am concerned about possible long-term side effects from the new vaccines. How can anyone say for sure that there won't be vaccinations that have been developed so quickly?
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There are reasons why the vaccines were developed quickly: First, production began before the end of Phase 3 clinical trials. Second, there was great interest in volunteering for the studies testing the effectiveness of the vaccines, which speeded up the process. Researchers often wait many months, and sometimes even years, to get people to volunteer for studies.
After all, there were many diseases in the community that made it quicker to determine if the vaccine was effective. The coronavirus has caused illness to millions of people in the United States alone, while Ebola and Zika viruses, while extremely serious, are far less affected.
I am much more concerned about the long-term effects of the virus, which can be very debilitating and can appear shortly after infection. We haven't seen any reports of any major effects from the vaccine in the last few months that the vaccine has been studied. If there had been a bigger impact, I think we should have seen them by now. However, this could change and the scientists would update the recommendations accordingly.
My husband is 72 years old and is undergoing chemotherapy for metastatic cancer in his lymph nodes. So far, the treatment has shown a shrinkage of the tumors and not a new spread. I am 73 years old. Should I have the vaccine?
There are two problems to be solved here. The first question that arises is whether someone who has been vaccinated can pass the disease on to someone else. There is very limited data on whether the vaccine is effective in limiting the spread of the disease, but we are waiting for studies to answer that question.
The second issue you are addressing concerns people who have weakened immune systems and whether or not they should receive the vaccine. While the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines has not been studied in immunocompromised people, the risk of COVID-19 for those with a weaker immune system like your husband's is very high. Because the benefits may outweigh the risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not indicated that immunodeficiency is a contraindication to receiving the COVID vaccine. Please consult your doctor to have a conversation about it.
I have rheumatoid / psoriatic arthritis. I take the biological Actemra and Solu Medrol as an infusion every month. I also take methotrexate twice a week. Is the vaccine considered safe for people with compromised immune systems?
The answer to this is very similar to the answer above. The CDC did not cite a weakened immune system as a reason not to receive the vaccine, or what we doctors call a contraindication. Still, it is important to speak to your doctor about your specific case.
Herbie Severe will receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna on December 21 at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images
My 22 year old son had a reaction to the MMR vaccine when he was around 6 years old. He had a fever for several days and developed a bleeding disorder ITP within a month or two of receiving the MMR vaccine. Should he be concerned about getting the coronavirus vaccine?
Another type of allergy other than anaphylaxis, which is a severe and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction to vaccines or components of the COVID vaccine, is not a contraindication to receiving the COVID vaccine. Anyone given any of the drugs that have been granted emergency approval will be monitored in the clinic for 15 to 30 minutes after the vaccine dose as serious reactions occur in the first minutes after vaccination.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I was given tetanus antitoxin (horse serum) and quickly passed out for about four days. I then remember having hives and mild asthma a few times in my childhood until I was around 25 years old. I don't have any significant allergies now. I have had multiple cardiac procedures including an open thoracotomy in 2010 to replace the mitral and aortic bovine valve and a Watchman procedure. I have a pacemaker and take metoprolol, torsemide and penicillin every day (after two episodes of endocarditis. Also a hemicolectomy for cancer. No problem with flu shots. In general, I feel better than in recent years. I drive without difficulty to get?
My answer here would be similar to the one answered above - an allergy other than anaphylaxis to vaccines or components of the COVID vaccine is not a contraindication to receiving the COVID vaccine. Asthma or seasonal allergies are also not contraindications. I would recommend that you consult your doctor for details about your other health issues.
And remember, scientific observations on the vaccine are still ongoing. The CDC, FDA, and other government agencies will keep the public informed of material changes as they occur.
This article was republished by The Conversation, a non-profit news site dedicated to exchanging ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Lana Dbeibo, Indiana University School of Medicine.
Continue reading:
If I have allergies, should I get the coronavirus vaccine? An expert answers these and other questions
A majority of vaccine skeptics plan to turn down a COVID-19 vaccine, according to one study, and that could be a big problem
Lana Dbeibo does not work for any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and does not consult or receive funding from stocks. She has not disclosed any relevant affiliations beyond her academic appointment.

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