SLC Board of Health president encouraging young, healthy people to get COVID vaccine too
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
CANTON — St. Lawrence County’s Board of Health president is urging everyone, especially the young, healthy and fit, to be vaccinated for COVID-19, who he warns may not die of the disease but could be stuck with what’s called Long Haul Syndrome.
Dr. Andrew Williams made the comments during the county legislature’s Monday, Jan. 11 meeting.Long Haul Syndrome is seen in some COVID-19 patients where they experience cardiac, neurological or cognitive problems weeks or even months after recovering.
“Although your risk of death from Covid infection is low, risk of hospitalization and long-term complications is both real and unpredictable,” he said in explaining why the young and healthy should opt for vaccination.
He said the vaccines are “effective and safe” and “certainly safer” than getting COVID-19.
“With natural infection, we see that immunity may wane after 90 days, and we certainly see reinfection after 90 days,” he said. “By getting vaccinated, you’re essentially doing your part to stop this pandemic, and also restart our economy.”
Dr. Williams recently surveyed a sample of local healthcare workers, and 217 of them, 97% of the sample, chose to receive the vaccine.
He said the other 3% “declined for various reasons, sometimes a particular health concern.”
The doctor explained that the vaccine does not contain live or dead coronavirus. It’s called a messenger RNA vaccine, “which acts as instructions for cells to create a sample of the spike protein,” which binds to cells and causes the infection. Based on that “sample spike protein,” the body makes antibodies that fight off the coronavirus.
He said the messenger RNA, sometimes shortened to mRNA, does not affect one’s DNA.
“It gets into the cells, mostly stays in the cells in the arm where you had the injection. It makes those cells produce these spike proteins,” he said. After that, the messenger RNA goes away.
“It never enters the nucleus of a cell, and never modifies the DNA,” Dr. Williams said. “When real viruses infected you, sometimes they do infect your DNA,” for example the human papillomavirus (HPV).
He said the COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild side effects for a day or two. Those experiencing mild symptoms may have a sore arm, and some feel fatigued or develop a low-grade fever. He said that’s “really a sign your immune system is working and developing a healthy immunity.”
He warned that those receiving the vaccine should not “premedicate” with things like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin or any other similar medication because they can make the vaccine not as effective.
“It can make it harder for the body to make the antibodies it needs,” he said.
He said a very small number of people throughout the United States had an anaphylaxis reaction to the vaccine, but “all of the individuals we’ve seen have these reactions have been successfully treated and go right home from the emergency, unlike people who have severe COVID.”