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COVID-19: Thinking of Getting Vaccinated? Here are a Few Things to Know

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Have you recently considered taking the COVID-19 vaccine? Are you worried you might be asked to test for the virus before vaccination? Or concerned that your neighbour who took the vaccine wasn’t tested?

This last question prompted a Twitter user with the name Godwin Boateng to tweet at Dubawa recently. Boateng would like to know why Covid-19 tests are not being conducted before vaccines are administered.

To answer his question, we set out to find information on the vaccine administration and why tests are not being run before the jabs.

Indeed, unlike other vaccinations for diseases such as Hepatitis B that may  require individuals to be tested for the disease before getting vaccinated, the COVID-19 inoculation is different. 

According to Dr Kasule Iddrisu Yakubu, a Medical Officer at Bolga Regional Hospital, “vaccines are for prevention, not treatment”, and it is on that basis that people who are tested and found to be infected with Hepatitis B are not vaccinated.

He also added that in some cases, like Hepatitis B, people may never be cured completely and thus taking the vaccine is of no use. He is, however, unsure why the same is not being done with the Covid-19 vaccinations.

Generally, information available online suggests that there is no need for COVID-19 tests to be run on people before being tested, especially if there are no symptoms showing signs of contraction.

Here is what we know.

  • You do not need to be tested before getting the shot if you have no symptoms.

Dubawa reached out to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) for clarification on the issue. In an email response,  the CDC stated that,

“At this time, CDC is not recommending that anyone be tested for active or prior infection before getting vaccinated for COVID-19.” It did not, however, indicate to us why this is the case.

Health professionals, including Dr. Steve Feagins, MD Chief Clinical Officer, Mercy Health, and Dr Malik Marshall, a physician, practicing doctor and medical reporter, have also spoken on the matter and expressed similar views

“No, you don’t need to be tested beforehand unless you are having COVID-19 symptoms, in which case you should be. But even if you get a vaccine and you are infected with the coronavirus and you don’t have any symptoms, it’s fine, it’s not dangerous, go ahead and get vaccinated,” Dr. Mallik Marshall said in an interview with CBS Boston.

  • Do not go for the shot if you have symptoms of the disease (sudden loss of smell and taste, muscle aches, fever, difficulty in breathing, a cough or fatigue).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

“No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.”

Another angle to why people with symptoms should refrain from going to the vaccination centers is that, according to an abcnews report, there is a risk of infecting other people. 

  • If you had the disease and have recovered, you can still get vaccinated.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recovered COVID-19 patients should also get vaccinated. It is, however, recommended that such patients wait for up to 90 days if they were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma before getting vaccinated.

WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, also has said that it is recommended that people who have been previously infected with Covid-19 still take the vaccine jabs.

This is supported by some studies which suggest that waiting for up to three months after being infected with COVID-19 can be beneficial  to patients as there are chances the body will generate greater immune response to the virus.

A study, “SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Response in Persons with Past Natural Infection”, which examined Italian health care workers found that recovered patients are more likely to to have a higher antibody response if they waited up to three months after recovery before getting their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Another study, “Antibody Responses in Seropositive Persons after a Single Dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine”, also found that people who previously had COVID-19 generated similar or stronger antibody response after a single dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as compared to people who had never contracted the COVID-19 disease who had received two doses of the vaccines previously mentioned.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has also stated that people who have been infected with the Covid-19 virus and recovered should also get vaccinated.

“Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.”

All-in-all, tests are not a must before getting the COVID-19 vaccination. However, it is important that the spread of the virus is mitigated by avoiding vaccination centers when one exhibits COVID-19 symptoms. 

Roselena Ahiable is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Roselena has years of demonstrated work experience in advertising, sales and marketing, having worked with some of the leading brands in Ghana. She has completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, with specialisation in Public Relations and Advertising. She has also received advanced training in print and broadcast journalism. Roselena also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana. As a trained journalist with interest in research, Roselena provides the team insight in news and media trend analysis.

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