Last Updated: March 12
Below you will find the archive of questions posed to Dr. Stephen Bickel in his “Ask the Doctor” column, with his answers once you follow each link. Dr. Bickel’s Ask the Doctor column is regularly updated as your questions are submitted, regarding the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines and other, unrelated questions of medical concern.
Generally, the newer questions will be at the top of each group of questions.
Frequent Questions About the Covid-19 Vaccine:
Should I get the vaccine?
What benefit do I personally get from the vaccine?
What benefit does the community get from people like me getting vaccinated? And what’s the deal with “herd immunity” anyway?
Is this a vaccine that we have to get yearly?
What should we do now as a community regarding Covid and the vaccine?
Do all of the vaccines have aborted fetus tissue in them?
Some immediate safety measures you can take now.
How important is it to get the second Covid 19 vaccine within the specific time period? Will the Department of Health make sure that people receive this vaccine within the parameters after they receive the first vaccine dose? [Ron Boyce]
Covid Vaccine Safety
Can a patient with a history of an allergic reaction receive the vaccine?
Should pregnant or breastfeeding individuals receive the vaccine?
Isn’t vaccination unnatural? Is it dangerous to our genes?
I am 81 years old. Norway reports that the vaccine recipients in my age group are dying. 29 to date. Should I wait until there is more data?
What agency is tracking severe vaccine reactions – is there any tracking at the state or county level? Is information provided to vaccine recipients on who to contact concerning adverse reactions? Are physicians required to report adverse reactions that are reported to them by their patients? Where can the public view information related to continuing tracking of adverse vaccine reactions?
Covid Vaccine Effectiveness
I’m 76, diagnosed with PBC and have had the first dose of Moderna vaccine thanks to the fine folks at Cattleman’s. Presuming I get the second dose and an antibody test shows strong antibodies, can I still get the virus? Or give it to my family who have not had the vaccine?
My husband and I are both over 65 and had the virus in September. We wondered if we are unknowingly exposed to the virus again, we can transmit the virus to others? Any thoughts on having a child age 16 vaccinated who works at an assisted living facility?
As someone who is immune compromised, Addison’s disease, I know I may not produce as many antibodies after the COVID vaccine as most. Would an antibody test be useful in determining how robust my response is? Exactly what information can be gleaned from an antibody test? [Elizabeth Graf]
I recently learned about how using over-the-counter pain relievers or drinking alcohol prior to and following the Covid vaccine injection would impact the efficacy of the vaccine. Although the CDC has a sentence or two regarding use of OTC use prior to the vaccine, their FAQ response is too vague to be helpful. Please shed light on this issue. Also, I understand that OTC pain relievers can reduce the efficacy of ANY vaccine. A resource is provided here: “Don’t take a Tylenol or Advil before you get your COVID-19 vaccination and even if the shot hurts, you shouldn’t take one for a day or two after you get it, according to Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and member of the FDA vaccine advisory board.”
Could you please explain how a vaccine trial such as the Johnson and Johnson trial that has only 468 positive cases can show that these cases represent the true population of the US and are not just random results given that the study time to date is so short. With so few cases, and such a short time period – only 28 days post vaccination, how can it be concluded that the vaccine is the cause of only 28% of cases in the vaccinated group resulting in moderate to severe covid-19. In addition, many cases take time to progress. We hear over and over again that patients hospitalized don’t die until many weeks later. And some cases that seem mild at first progress after 10 or more days to severe. It seems like there is a rush to just put out any vaccine without actually getting the appropriate trial results.
Questions about the second dose:
If the second dose of maderna vaccine is the same as the first why is there more of a reaction the vaccininator told me to take the following day of work off because of adverse reactions. [armando fiorsani]
How can it be secured? how far past the date of the first shot is it still viable? Are the first and second dose the same? If Flagler County isn’t going to have any second doses at the appropriate time, where can we turn?
The Politics and Logistics of the Covid Vaccine
Why are existing health systems like Florida HealthCare not being used to give the vaccine to their eligible patients? They are already routinely give flu shots, etc. and have a list of those who should get the vaccine. Thank you and the DOH who are doing a great job. [Carolyn Nicolin]
When will my adult disabled son be eligible to receive the vaccine?
Numerous questions came in regarding the lack of vaccines and who gets priority. A reader asked why non-Flagler County residents are eligible to be vaccinated here. Priscilla Reid asked about “the lack of a reasonable distribution system other than the first come, first serve free for all we are in now,” and the possibility of making appointments alphabetically. Many are asking about the difficulties of getting on any kind of list. Marilyn Cichocki, who is 75, and whose husband is 86, cited the numerous health challenges they both face yet find themselves relegated to the same kind of lottery as everyone else. And Daniel Motta asked why health insurance companies that make billions in profits have been silent through all this. Dr. Bickel provided a detailed answer to the questions.
How can we get signed up for the next receipt of vaccines? It seems like when we get the notice of available appointments, the appointments are all gone. Couldn’t the Flagler County Health Department go ahead and give a sequenced reservation so the appointments seem to be less of a lottery? How can the Flagler County Health Department be more proactive in scheduling appointments? I have heard that local senior living establishments have not gotten vaccines. Is that true? If so, why? Flagler County residents and health officials should not be penalized for working hard to limit transmission of Covid-19. Why are we getting so few vaccine doses?
Questions About the Covid Vaccine’s Effects:
I received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on 1/8/21. About 10 seconds after the injection I felt a little “woozy”/dizzy which passed, however, I had an elevated heart rate for the rest of the evening. I’m wondering if it’s safe to get the second dose? I do not have a history of allergies.
66-year-old male. Four days after second Pfizer vaccine experienced chills fever and body aches. Then nonstop diarrhea for five days. Staying hydrated pedialyte and water. Was told to take six – ten million Probiotic. On day two of that. Still cannot keep anything down. Any help would be thankful.
Specific Medical Questions:
I have three children (7, 5, and 3) that have spent the last 10 months at home. Our hope is that it is safe for them to attend public school in person again this coming fall. Given that all forms of the vaccine are not approved for anyone younger that 16, and won’t be by fall, how safe is it for young children to attend school in the fall? [Blake VandeBunte]
This may fall into the Urban Myth category, but if there is any actual data on the subject, I’d be very interested to hear/read it, or read your comments. What effect might an autoimmune disorder have on an individual’s response to the Covid-19 virus? Is there any chance that following a protocol of avoiding certain substances enhances the body’s ability to respond? (One theory going around social media about ten years ago was that eschewing gluten helped mitigate the effects of chemotherapy, e.g.) This idle speculation was prompted by Tara Parker Pope’s article on the low percentage of coronavirus patients in China who wore glasses.
I am on Augmentin for an inflamed colon, diverticulitis. Presently I am not having any pain or symptoms. I have an appointment for the vaccine on Tuesday (will still be taking augmentin). Can I take the vaccine? [Bonnie Krell]
A close friend is allergic to penicillin and said she was told she can’t have the vaccine for Covid. I’ve read several other opinions on this. Can you extend you thoughts on this please? [Amy Murphy-DeMeo]
I am over 65 with heart disease, type 2 Diabetes and severe Rheumatoid Arthritis for which I take a biologic injection monthly which lowers my immune system further. How effective will the vaccine be for me (90% effective for a healthy person?)
I had a procedure on my back on January 18, 2021 with shots into my lower & mid back for arthritis in my spine. Will I have to delay (if I finally get an appointment) getting the covid -19 vaccine? I am 83, diabetic & have asthma which puts me at high risk. I am on a list for call back. [Sarah G Thompson-Lowe]
I’m a teacher and I am exposed to Covid every day, students get quarantined but teachers do not. I’m taking off two months because I have asthma, and I can’t wear her mask for long, and I have other health problems (I’m 58). Would I be towards the front of the line to get the vaccination? When do you think it will be available?
I understand that a very healthy doctor in Miami recently passed away 15 days after taking the vaccine. How are the issues of adverse reactions to the vaccine being approached. I am concerned and not convinced it is safe.
I have COPD, hypertension in my heard and myocardial bridging in my heart. I am scared about the vaccine affecting those to problems. Will I be okay taking it? Also what do people without texting capabilities to about making an appointment? Is there e mail address? Thank you.
From a conventional medical approach, how long does it take for a severe vitamin D deficiency to approach a normal range if a patient is consistently supplementing with vitamin D3 at high doses (8,000 to 10,000 IUs), as studies indicate that this deficiency has been found to be deadly with SARS-CoV-2 infections? What is a good maintenance dose thereafter? What if the patient doesn’t seem to be absorbing the supplement upon subsequent blood tests?
I read that for the Moderna vaccine they ask the following questions prior to you getting the shot. 1. are you on blood thinners 2. are you a bleeder. I would answer yes to both. Is there a concern here and if so would it apply to all the Covid vaccines?
I received the first Moderna vaccine and had a sore arm for a couple of days. Eight days later, the injection site was puffy, red and itchy, in an area about 1.5 by 2.5 inches. It lasted two days. Is it common to have a delayed reaction? Everything I’ve read about side effects only refers to the first few days and the v-safe emails from the CDC stopped after a week.
Links to additional references (some of which Dr. Bickel referred to in preparing these answers):
Ask Dr. Bickel on FlaglerLive
Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler and Volusia County Health Departments, will be fielding your questions and regularly answering them on FlaglerLive. The "Ask the Doctor" column will be updated accordingly. Ask your question below. Your email will not be public. Dr. Bickel will strive to answer all questions. But similar questions will be grouped together, your questions may be edited for brevity and clarity, or withheld if deemed inappropriate or not relevant. Note the disclaimer.
The content in FlaglerLive’s “Ask the Doctor” column is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. Reliance on any medical information provided by FlaglerLive.com or medical professionals presenting content for publication is solely at your own risk.