Photo Illustration by Soren Frantz

Ben Field
Equinox Staff

With increased vaccine availability comes the need for more information on vaccines and what they can do.

So what exactly are vaccines and how could they potentially affect people and the world of COVID-19? Keene State College President Dr. Melinda Treadwell held a vaccine panel discussion over Zoom with experts to explain just that.

On Wednesday, April 21, Treadwell talked with experts about vaccines and their potential effects on the population of not only the Keene area, but the entire world. Joining her on the panel were Dr. Aalok Khole from the Department of Infectious Diseases and Tricia Zahn with the Center for Population Health.

Khloe began the discussion by talking about different vaccines., “Within the U.S. we have had three vaccines as of now which have been granted EUA.” Khole said that EUA stands for “emergency use authorization” and the vaccines that have been granted EUA are the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In reference to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Khole said, “It is being paused as of now.”

Next, Khole went on to talk about the technology of vaccines and how they work. “The Pfizer and the Moderna are the first mRNA vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization,” said Khole. “The advantage is obviously given that you’re training the body itself to produce a part of the protein that looks like the virus and then generating an immune response.” The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different platform, which Khole described as, “it’s based off an inactivated viral vector, so it’s a replication incompetent adenovirus.” Khole said that adenoviruses are “respiratory viruses.” The advantage to all these vaccines Khole said is they are, “easy to mass produce.” However, unlike the mRNA, which must be stored at “minus 80 degrees centigrade,” the adenovirus vaccines have the advantage of, “less cold chain requirements.”

Khole said both mRNA vaccines, “showed efficacy of up to 95% 14 days after the second dose.” While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “was slated to be 72%” but Khole added, “It was 85% protective against severe disease, it was 100%protective against death.” Additionally, Khole said, “the best vaccine is the one you can get the earliest.”

Tricia Zahn, Director of Community Strategic Partnerships out of the Center for Population Health, talked about vaccine preparations for people and what to expect while getting the vaccine on site. “Make sure you’re going to vaccines.nh.gov,” said Zahn on how to register for vaccinations. Zahn said that there is a “regional fixed site” for vaccinations, “It’s located at 110 Krif Road in Keene which happens to be our Keene State College athletic complex.” Zahn also said that at the site they are averaging, “over 1,000 vaccines a day,” and that they have provided, “over 50,000 at that one location.” The vaccines being offered there are both Pfizer and Moderna. Krif Road is not the only site to get vaccines and Zahn, “There are lots of opportunities.”

In terms of vaccine preparation, Zahn reminded people to make sure they have “completed the pre-vaccination questionnaire” online before the appointment. Other information Zahn gave was to “bring your driver’s license or other photo ID.” Also, Zahn said, “come dressed for a vaccine, be prepared to show us that shoulder and be prepared for a wait.”

Treadwell finished the panel discussion talking about how these vaccines and more vaccine availability will affect Keene State College. Treadwell mentioned benefits of getting the vaccine for the future, “quarantine requirements” and “testing requirements” will both be affected for individuals who get the vaccine. However, because of the effectiveness of masks and physical distancing, Treadwell said, “They are going to continue to be a part of our life.”

Lastly, Treadwell said that even though many of the COVID-19 restrictions will still apply to individuals who do not get the vaccine, “We are not requiring the vaccine.”

 

Ben Field can be contacted at:
bfield@kscequinox.com

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