Ask the experts: Your COVID-19 vaccine questions answered

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – As more people start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, there will be more questions about getting the vaccine. Monday afternoon, FOX 2 medical reporter Dan Gray is sitting down with three people helping to lead the fight against COVID-19 in our region to get your answers.

Dr. Alex Garza, the head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force was part of the panel. The first topic tackled was about the region covered by the task force now recording 3,018 deaths.

Dr. Alex Garza said that number just underscores the seriousness of pandemic.

Dr. Garza also says there is a slight decline in hospital admissions, but there are still about 100 per day. There are also about 850 COVID patients in hospitals.

While those numbers are not going up, Dr. Garza says they are plateauing at a high level and it needs to come down.

Dr. Aamina Akhtar, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Hospital South and Sam Page, St. Louis County Executive also joined to answer your questions about the vaccine.

Here are the answers to some of the most popularly asked questions:

Q: When they can expect to get the vaccine.

A: 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. It may be a matter of months before it’s available to the general public. I wouldn’t count on it until maybe the second quarter of next year. (Dr. Garza)

Q: What are the side effects for people with immune disorders or diabetes

A: What we know about this vaccine is it’s not a live vaccine.  So for some immune-compromised patient populations live vaccines contraindicate. 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. ( Dr. Aamin Akhtar)

Dr. Sam Page was asked about his announcement today that restrictions could be relaxed on indoor dining in St. Louis County next month. He couldn’t go into details but the situation in the county is improving enough that a group is working on a reopening plan.

Page said he is working with officials about vaccine distribution for the area. However echoed the words of the other experts on the panel and said it’s not time to let up.

“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,” said Page.

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