News 8 hosts virtual town hall for ‘CT’s Shot in the Arm: The Checkup’

Coronavirus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — With changes to the rollout plan, the arrival of a third shot and trials underway in children and pregnant women, there’s still a lot of questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

To try and help answer some of them, News 8 hosted “Connecticut’s Shot In The Arm: The Checkup.” The hour-long virtual town hall, hosted by News 8 anchors Darren Kramer and Lisa Carberg, brought together the state’s leading doctors and policymakers to take part in the discussion.

Topics of the night ranged from how long the COVID vaccine is effective for, how will it impact kids going back to school in the fall and myths surrounding the vaccine.

Governor Ned Lamont said the state getting twice as many vaccines as is expected to get. He’s slated to give an update on COVID response efforts Thursday afternoon, which may include further efforts to ease restrictions

Below were the questions asked:

What’s the latest on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine? How much does the state have, when are they going in arms, how does it impact vaccine rollout in the state?

Why should people take the J&J COVID vaccine if the others are more effective?

What is a “carrier vaccine”? How is it different than an MRNA vaccine?

True or False: Cutting through the myths associated with the COVID-19 vaccines

Are there specific side effects of the COVID vaccine related to people with chronic lung issues?

Can you choose which brand of vaccine you receive when you make an appointment?

Why have those with underlying conditions not been prioritized to get the COVID vaccine?

Why were residence hall workers in open college halls left out of the COVID vaccination plans?

How has COVID impacted the Black community and how does the medical community gain trust of the Black population?

How are organizations and the state increasing access of the COVID vaccine to minority populations?

Are the available COVID vaccines safe for kids? Where are vaccine makers on trials for kids?

Will our kids be vaccinated by the time school starts in the fall? If not, will it be safe to go back for in-person learning?

Is it safe for pregnant women to get the COVID vaccine now or should they wait?

Is there a certain period of time an expectant mother should wait before they get vaccinated to ensure the safety of their growing fetus?

Can women who are breast feeding get the COVID vaccine? Can it improve the immunity of the baby?

How do I find a COVID vaccine site that can accommodate a possible anaphylactic respiratory reaction to the vaccine?

Will the homebound be able to receive their vaccinations at home now that the J&J COVID vaccine – one dose with low-temperature storage requirement – is available?

For how long is the COVID vaccine effective?

What should you do after you get the COVID vaccine?

Can you transmit COVID after you are fully vaccinated?

After I am vaccinated, how far beyond the two-week safety period is it safe to visit family/friends?

Why do you want Connecticut to be vaccinated?

Additional viewer questions answered by Yale’s Dr. Juthani:

“My 2nd Pfizer shot is due this Friday March 5, I seem to have caught a slight cold, no fever no coughing, no headache, just a little achy. Is it safe for me to still take my vaccine this Friday”

If you aren’t feeling well, it is better to delay your second shot until you feel better. Although it is recommended to get your second Pfizer shot 21 days after your first shot, you can get it up to 42 days after the first dose based on the CDC recommendations.

“I would like to know if it is safe for someone with an autoimmune disease to get the COVID vaccine shot.”

Patients with autoimmune disorders can receive the vaccine; however,  there are no safety data for these vaccines in this group of patients. Clinical trials of patients with autoimmune disorders are ongoing.

“I know that studies are being done on children and pregnant women.  How does the vaccine affect people undergoing immunotherapy for cancer that has been stabilized? I’ve been told that it is not as effective and needs to be administered at least 2 weeks after treatment.”

Patients receiving immunotherapy have suppressed immune systems. They can receive the COVID vaccine, but waiting two weeks after the treatment makes sense to allow for your body to have the strongest response possible and build antibodies.

“My husband is 63 and had Guillain Barre and cannot get a flu shot.  Can he get the COVID vaccine?”

Patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome get the COVID vaccine. There are no reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome in participants in the mRNA trials.

“I saw a news story that said the vaccine could potentially trigger lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.  What can be shared on this topic?”

There are not enough data to suggest that the vaccine can trigger disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

“Question on COVID vaccine: Is it dangerous to get a second vaccine shot a few days after the first?”

Since we don’t have years of safety data on COVID vaccines administered at the same time or in close proximity to other vaccines, the CDC recommends an interval of at least 14 days before or after getting a COVID vaccine before taking another vaccine. If any side effects occur, they can be most accurately attributed to the COVID vaccine. If you need another vaccine, for example, a tetanus shot after an injury, you should take the vaccine that is clinically indicated.

Below is a rundown of the featured guests:

Governor Ned Lamont

Ned Lamont is the 89th governor of Connecticut and has been leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Lamont has given updates weekly on Connecticut’s Coronavirus response efforts and has issued several executive orders as emergency actions to tackle the outbreak.

Prior to becoming Connecticut’s governor on Jan. 9, 2019, Lamont started his own telecom company, which served over 400 of America’s college campuses and 1 million college students across the nation.

Deidre GiffordMD, MPH

Governor Lamont appointed Dr. Deidre Gifford to serve as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) on May 12, 2020 — amid the pandemic — in addition to her continuing role as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). Gifford began service DSS in June 2019.

From 2012 to 2015, Commissioner Gifford served as Medicaid Director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Gifford was Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2016. Before joining CMS, she served as the Director of State Policy and Programs at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, where she led that organization’s efforts with states to support and advance value-based purchasing in Medicaid.

In October 2020, Gifford was named a co-chair of Governor Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group.

Keith Grant, APRN

Keith Grant joined Hartford HealthCare as the Senior System Director of Infection Prevention in January 2020.

He is an active member of the United States Air Force Reserve Corps. The 439th Aerospace Medical Squadron flight medicine provider worked on the front lines of the pandemic. He also built infection control programs, collaborated with other health departments and ensured that the proper resources were in place to promote infection prevention practices. 

Dr. Jessica Abrantes-Figueiredo

Dr. Jessica Abrantes-Figueiredo is an Infectious Diseases Physician at Trinity Health of New England. She attended the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where she also did her residency and fellowship.

Archbishop Leroy Bailey, Jr.

Archbishop Leroy Bailey, Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Chief Executive Officer at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield. He has been a minister for over 55 years, starting at the age of 10. His achievements in sharing the message of God have been recognized by Presidents of the United States and other notable Dignitaries. Under his leadership, Bailey was able to grow membership at The First Cathedral from a few hundred to more than 11,000 members.

Dr. Manisha Juthani

Dr. Manisha Juthani is an Infectious Diseases Physician at Yale School of Medicine. She started fellowship training in 2002 and joined the full-time Infectious Disease facility in 2006. In 2012, she took on the role of Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program Director. Juthani specializes in researching infectious diseases in the aging population.

Dr. Juan Salazar

Dr. Salazar is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric infectious disease physician. He is the physician-in-chief and executive vice president of Academic Affairs at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford. Dr. Salazar is also the director of the Pediatric and Youth HIV program at Connecticut Children’s and serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine.

Dr. Salazar has received several NIH and private foundation grants to study Pediatric HIV, congenital syphilis, and Lyme disease. He and his colleagues at the Spirochetal Research laboratories at the University of Connecticut Health Center are actively studying the immune response of children and adults who become infected with the Lyme disease bacterium. He also collaborates with translational and clinical researchers in Southern China and in Cali, Colombia.

Dr. Tekisha Dwan Everette

Dr. Everette is the executive director of Health Equity Solutions. Her passion for social justice was fueled by her personal experiences and influences as a child. This, combined with her admiration for social justice trailblazers inspired her to dedicate her life’s work toward eradicating health care inequities through advocacy and policy.

Everette has built a successful career in public policy, particularly health care policy, and advocacy in the non-profit, state, and private sectors. Before taking the helm of Health Equity Solutions (HES), she served as the Managing Director of Federal Government Affairs with the American Diabetes Association, where she provided strategic leadership on policy and advocacy initiatives with the White House, several federal agencies, and Congress, which led to important victories for people with and at risk for diabetes.

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