Medical experts take FOX 2/News 11 viewer questions about COVID


ST. LOUIS – Our viewers want to know when a COVID vaccine will be available to the general public. They’re also concerned and what whether people with autoimmune disorders and diabetes should worry about the side effects of the vaccine.

FOX 2 hosted a live digital broadcast Monday to discuss those concerns.

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page; Dr. Aamin Ahktar, chief medical officer of Mercy Hospital South; and Dr. Alex Garza, commander of the St. Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, gathered together for our digital broadcast to answer questions sent in by our viewers.

“We’re still at a very high level of the virus transmitting in the community that hasn’t gone away,” Garza said.

Several viewers asked when can they expect to get the vaccine.

“It’s going to take time to get to these different tiers. That’s why it’s really important that we don’t forget and continue to practice all those things that prevent transmission of the virus until we can get a large-scale vaccination accomplished in the community,” Garza said. “So, it may be a matter of months before it’s available to the general public…I wouldn’t count on (the vaccine) until maybe the second quarter of next year.”

Other viewers asked whether people with immune disorders or diabetes should worry about the vaccine’s side effects.

“What we know about this vaccine is it’s not a live vaccine. So, for some immune-compromised patient populations live vaccines contraindicate,” Dr. Akhtar said. “This is not a live vaccine and we know that people with immune-compromised conditions patients with diabetes are at higher risk for severe COVID illnesses, so it’s more important for that population to get immunized.”

The vaccine is a game changer but officials say people should still wear a mask, work from home if you can, and practice social distancing.

“I would just recognize that the arrival of the vaccine is exciting, but we have a long way to go and we’ll be living with masks and with some kind of restrictions for a few more months,” Page said.

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