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Three questions about that vaccine

I’ve been following the news of the COVID-19 vaccine coming to Oregon very closely. I have three questions that I have not found the answers to:

1. There appears to be several strains of the virus. Will the two-shot vaccine cover all of the different strains?

2. If someone previously was infected with COVID-19, recovered and developed antibodies, is it still necessary to get the vaccine?

3. I’m in a high-risk group due to my age and an underlying medical condition. How will I be “notified” that I am eligible for the vaccine, or will I?

As always, thank you for your help.

— Bill F., Medford

Bill, these are all great questions. And that’s not just SYA saying that: “Bill, these are all great questions” was the first line from Jackson County Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames after he got back to us. After complimenting you, he took the time to answer each of your questions, so let’s get to it.

First of all, Shames does not believe that the mutations of the virus reportedly seen in Great Britain and elsewhere will impact the effectiveness of the vaccine. But, rest assured, that possibility isn’t being ignored.

“If in the future there is information that it does, the vaccine can be modified to adjust to those changes.”

As for those unlucky enough to have been infected with COVID-19 and to have developed antibodies, you’re still better off getting the vaccine, according to Shames. Unless, that is, you were recently infected and are recovering.

Otherwise, Shames says, “it is felt that previous COVID is not a contraindication to vaccination.” And yes, “contraindication” is one of those fancy medical terms folks like Shames like to use — it refers, in medicine, to a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient.

And regarding the final question about the notification process, Shames reports that the details have yet to be worked out. “But eventually,” he added, “no one will be left behind.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.