HOUSTON — The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could arrive at local hospitals next week, pending FDA emergency use authorization.
Many of you have specific questions about how the two-dose vaccine works.
QUESTION: How protected are you after one shot of the vaccine, and when after the shot do you become protected?
“As early as 10 days after the shot, you do start seeing a high level of protection. That’s very encouraging, but you still have to get two shots to reach the 95 percent level of protection,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
QUESTION: I take medicine which suppresses my immune system. Will the vaccine still be effective for me?
Dr. Ostrosky said only a limited number of people with compromised immune systems were part of Pfizer’s clinical trial.
“So far we don’t have all the data we need to say this vaccine is very effective in this population, but at this point we are recommending immunocompromised patients and people taking immunosuppressants do take the vaccine,” Dr. Ostrosky said.
QUESTION: Are the hospital staff that clean the patient’s rooms considered health care workers?
Yes, custodial staff are in the first tier of frontline workers to be vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Houston Methodist shared more details of its plan to vaccinate its 13,000 frontline workers.
“You have respiratory therapists to food service workers to housekeepers to others who are all serving the needs - as well as the nurses, PCAs, and all of our physicians,” said Roberta Schwartz, Houston Methodist Executive Vice President.
QUESTION: I have extreme allergies. Is it safe for me to take the vaccine?
UK health authorities say two healthcare workers did have allergic reactions to the shot.
“Pretty much the people that have to carry an EpiPen -- that have very severe reactions to bees or certain things in the environment -- that’s the population I think should be more careful,” Dr. Ostrosky said.
He expects the FDA to provide more guidance on this issue after its hearing this week.
QUESTION: What temperature will the vaccine have to be to safely inject it?
"Once its taken out of the ultra-cold freezers, it has to be used within five hours and it can remain at room temperature at that point. So once its being administered, you have to use it within five hours," Dr. Ostrosky said.