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We’ve worked hard to bring COVID-19 vaccines to our Park Central Communities. We’ve been successful in offering these vaccines to both our staff and our residents. 
How do the vaccinations work and why should people take them? We sat down with Dr. Todd Bell from Texas Tech University to get some answers.

Why should people get the vaccination?

The vaccines that have been approved in the U.S have successfully been able to prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19. We know that there is a large part of our population that is prone to greater risk factors if they contract the virus – the vaccines may reduce those risks by 90% or more in the studies that have been done. The main reason people should get vaccinated is to protect themselves. We have learned that people who are not sick are less likely to be able to spread the virus, but even those who are not at risk of having complications from the virus should get the vaccine when it’s available to them. If we’re all in this together and we can work to get everybody protected from COVID-19, then we can start looking at things like getting rid of masks.


Should people who have already had COVID-19 continue to be vaccinated?

There are many studies that show people who have been infected with the COVID-19 will most likely have immunity that will last up to about five months. The problem is that we don’t know if they’re going to be susceptible or not after those five months. There have been quite a few cases around the world of people getting reinfected – so instead of relying on the antibodies for up to five months, the average person can get vaccinated and potentially be immune for up to a year or two. 


Have you seen anyone who’s had a major reaction after getting the vaccine?

We have seen reactions to the vaccine that we previously anticipated which include a low-grade fever, a headache, or muscle aches. These reactions happen when the immune system is being triggered to practice a response and are typically short-lived lasting only 24 hours or less. Many people show signs of these side effects after the second dose of the vaccine more than the first dose because the immune system is already prepared. 
Although, if someone has had a severe allergic reaction, they most likely were given epinephrine and had trouble breathing. These people should no longer get the second dose of the same vaccine and should speak with their doctor before receiving the second dose. To ensure the safety of all individuals receiving the vaccine, we have each person wait for 15 minutes to watch for any adverse reactions.


Is there any reason that someone should not get the vaccine or anything they should be worried about?

When creating a vaccine, you either have to make it expensive, take a long time to do it, or have to sacrifice the efficiency of how effective it is. In this particular situation, what was sacrificed was money. They’ve spent a lot of money being able to do different parts of the studies in parallel, instead of doing them completely sequentially. This has allowed us to see a shortened timeline for vaccine development without sacrificing the safety or the efficiency of the vaccine. The good news is the end result is something that is a great and very effective vaccine. 


For someone who has chosen to receive the first and second vaccine, do they still have to wear masks and social distance?

The short answer is yes. There’s a couple of reasons that people who, even after they’ve been vaccinated, shouldn’t go to lick a bunch of elevator door buttons. The vaccine, even though it’s more than 90% effective, is not one hundred percent full proof. There’s always the chance that someone could get infected even if they’ve been vaccinated. If they are infected, their symptoms will be milder than if they had not been vaccinated, but we still don’t want them to get sick. People can get the actual virus, not have any symptoms and still be able to spread the virus. We know the vaccine prevents people from getting sick with the virus, but we don’t have the proof yet that the vaccine prevents that asymptomatic shedding. Until we have that kind of science that’s been done, and until the ongoing studies are done, that’s one of the main reasons that we still need to wear masks. We also should continue to practice social distancing until we either have everybody or the majority of people vaccinated or until we receive research saying that this is also going to decrease the risk of inadvertently spreading the disease.


Do people really need the second dose of the vaccine? 

Many people assume that if they had COVID, and then they get the vaccine later, that they are now ‘double protected.’ This leads many people to believe they don’t need the second dose.
Dr. Bell thinks of it as a great cookie recipe. You know that if you have followed the recipe, you’re going to end up with really great cookies and if you start messing with the recipe, they may or may not still be great cookies. When we look at the vaccines, we’re obligated to try to follow the recipe, the one that was actually studied and designed for a specific outcome. We know that if we follow and we do one dose, and then after a certain number of weeks, we get our second dose. This leads to more than 90% effectiveness. If we start messing around with that, we just don’t have good data to know how protective it’s going to be. I highly encourage people to get their first dose, go and get their secondary.


We appreciate Dr. Bell’s input on the Covid-19 vaccine and the importance of getting it. For more information on how Park Central is doing our part in administering the vaccine to our communities, visit our website. If you would like to learn more about our excellent Senior Living options, contact us, we would love to give you your best life!