Ramping up COVID-19 vaccination rate in race against virus

May 5, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (19)

COVID-19 cases are falling in the U.S. because 245 million doses of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "But at the same time, there are still people who need more information about the safety and the value of getting a COVID-19 vaccine," says Dr. Poland.

While still hopeful, Dr. Poland says he's concerned herd immunity won't be reached in the U.S. through vaccination. And that will mean more tragic deaths due to COVID-19 infection.

"My guess is, because we're such an interconnected global community until everybody's safe, none of us are safe. And we're going to likely see continued circulation of the virus, and that virus will seek out whoever is not immune," says Dr. Poland.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland also addresses when we will need COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be needed and the latest on masking guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, he will provide an update on COVID-19 treatments and how to handle those who want to visit a newborn baby.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

Research disclosures for Dr. Gregory Poland.

Connect with others talking about the pandemic and supporting one another in the COVID-19 support group.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

 

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Dr. Poland, are you saying that the number of incidents of tinnitus in the population per week or month for people who were vaccinated (fully or with one dose?) is the same as if they didn't get a vaccine at all and were just in the general population on an ordinary day?

REPLY
@merpreb

Dr. Poland, are you saying that the number of incidents of tinnitus in the population per week or month for people who were vaccinated (fully or with one dose?) is the same as if they didn't get a vaccine at all and were just in the general population on an ordinary day?

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Here is the excerpt of Dr. Poland's answer re tinnitus.
"So, this is a very interesting question that you asked me. About an hour after my second dose, I developed severe ringing in my ears. About 10 weeks later, it's starting to decrease. This is called tinnitus. It's a very common phenomena. I've queried the CDC about it. Some 1000 reports have been received in regards to this. So, like any side effect, if you feel you've had a side effect from a vaccine, we ask people please report it, you can go online, and just type in VAERS. And it's an online reporting system that you can report, it's the only way that we can find out about rare safety signals.

So, so far, the number of people who have developed ringing in their ears has not exceeded the expected baseline if there were no COVID vaccines being given. So, what you want to know is by giving a vaccine, are you seeing a higher rate than among people who have not gotten the vaccine, and it has thus far not reached that state, but something to be aware of. By way of encouragement, and I've talked to a number of ENTs about this, they believe that if that's real, it's on a transient or temporary inflammatory basis, and that most all of those will resolve in the six-to-12-month time period. We'll see if that's true. But that seems to be the trend."

In other words, the number of currently reported cases of tinnitus following vaccination for COVID does not exceed the number of tinnitus cases that are generally reported when vaccination is not happening. Experts are not discounting the possibility of tinnitus as a side effect and believe it may be a temporary inflammation response.

REPLY
@colleenyoung

Here is the excerpt of Dr. Poland's answer re tinnitus.
"So, this is a very interesting question that you asked me. About an hour after my second dose, I developed severe ringing in my ears. About 10 weeks later, it's starting to decrease. This is called tinnitus. It's a very common phenomena. I've queried the CDC about it. Some 1000 reports have been received in regards to this. So, like any side effect, if you feel you've had a side effect from a vaccine, we ask people please report it, you can go online, and just type in VAERS. And it's an online reporting system that you can report, it's the only way that we can find out about rare safety signals.

So, so far, the number of people who have developed ringing in their ears has not exceeded the expected baseline if there were no COVID vaccines being given. So, what you want to know is by giving a vaccine, are you seeing a higher rate than among people who have not gotten the vaccine, and it has thus far not reached that state, but something to be aware of. By way of encouragement, and I've talked to a number of ENTs about this, they believe that if that's real, it's on a transient or temporary inflammatory basis, and that most all of those will resolve in the six-to-12-month time period. We'll see if that's true. But that seems to be the trend."

In other words, the number of currently reported cases of tinnitus following vaccination for COVID does not exceed the number of tinnitus cases that are generally reported when vaccination is not happening. Experts are not discounting the possibility of tinnitus as a side effect and believe it may be a temporary inflammation response.

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Thank you

REPLY

Dear Dr Poland, Thank you for this very educational podcast. It was so helpful! I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine about 6 weeks ago at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I have a question about some symptoms that developed after my first dose – and which is giving me some concern about receiving the second dose .
Within a few hours of receiving the first dose, I experienced symptoms of partial facial and oro-nasal numbness, tingling i.e. possibly Bell's palsy that appeared to last a few days…and then resolved. However, approximately 3 weeks later, these symptoms reappeared and have persisted. What I do not know, is whether this situations would be aggravated or significantly worsened by the second dose.
I did a little research and according to an article published by Web MD on Dec 17th, 2020 , the FDA recommended monitoring people for potential cases of Bell's Palsy (4 our of 43, 000 participants in the Pfizer trial developed symptoms of Bell's Palsy but there is not enough data to show whether the cases were tied directly to the vaccine . In Medpage Today, published April 27th, 2021, you were quoted saying that the VIgiBase findings indicate a "slight imbalance during the phase 111 trials of both mRNA vaccines, suggesting a potential safety signal".. "however no clear signals have been detected in any of the US vaccine surveillance systems"…which suggests there is simply not enough data. I have reported my symptoms both to Family Medicine and the VAERS (which relies on the patient filling in a comment space and is limited in its data capture, though I believe they are doing the best they can). Given this uncertainty, I am wondering if I should have my second dose (which I very much want). I would welcome your perspective. Thank you. Evie H.

REPLY
@emc

Dear Dr Poland, Thank you for this very educational podcast. It was so helpful! I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine about 6 weeks ago at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I have a question about some symptoms that developed after my first dose – and which is giving me some concern about receiving the second dose .
Within a few hours of receiving the first dose, I experienced symptoms of partial facial and oro-nasal numbness, tingling i.e. possibly Bell's palsy that appeared to last a few days…and then resolved. However, approximately 3 weeks later, these symptoms reappeared and have persisted. What I do not know, is whether this situations would be aggravated or significantly worsened by the second dose.
I did a little research and according to an article published by Web MD on Dec 17th, 2020 , the FDA recommended monitoring people for potential cases of Bell's Palsy (4 our of 43, 000 participants in the Pfizer trial developed symptoms of Bell's Palsy but there is not enough data to show whether the cases were tied directly to the vaccine . In Medpage Today, published April 27th, 2021, you were quoted saying that the VIgiBase findings indicate a "slight imbalance during the phase 111 trials of both mRNA vaccines, suggesting a potential safety signal".. "however no clear signals have been detected in any of the US vaccine surveillance systems"…which suggests there is simply not enough data. I have reported my symptoms both to Family Medicine and the VAERS (which relies on the patient filling in a comment space and is limited in its data capture, though I believe they are doing the best they can). Given this uncertainty, I am wondering if I should have my second dose (which I very much want). I would welcome your perspective. Thank you. Evie H.

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@emc, I have submitted your question for Dr. Poland to consider for next week's podcast. Given the specific nature of your query, I recommend that you post your questions and concerns to the Mayo Clinic patient portal to get an answer specific to your medical history and current medical status.

REPLY

Dr Poland I am wondering if you could comment on whether or not the post vaccination symptoms of Bell's palsy after an initial dose are of sufficient concern to delay the second dose – as a general recommendation.
I read that the FDA recommended monitoring people for potential cases of Bell's Palsy (4 our of 43, 000 participants in the Pfizer trial developed symptoms of Bell's Palsy) but there is not enough data to show whether the cases were tied directly to the vaccine . In Medpage Today, published April 27th, 2021, you were quoted saying that the VIgiBase findings indicate a "slight imbalance during the phase 111 trials of both mRNA vaccines, suggesting a potential safety signal".. "however no clear signals have been detected in any of the US vaccine surveillance systems"…But I also noted that the VAERS database does not have a specific field to capture neurological symptoms and relies on the comment space. How should the risks be weighed? thank you. Evie

REPLY
@emc

Dr Poland I am wondering if you could comment on whether or not the post vaccination symptoms of Bell's palsy after an initial dose are of sufficient concern to delay the second dose – as a general recommendation.
I read that the FDA recommended monitoring people for potential cases of Bell's Palsy (4 our of 43, 000 participants in the Pfizer trial developed symptoms of Bell's Palsy) but there is not enough data to show whether the cases were tied directly to the vaccine . In Medpage Today, published April 27th, 2021, you were quoted saying that the VIgiBase findings indicate a "slight imbalance during the phase 111 trials of both mRNA vaccines, suggesting a potential safety signal".. "however no clear signals have been detected in any of the US vaccine surveillance systems"…But I also noted that the VAERS database does not have a specific field to capture neurological symptoms and relies on the comment space. How should the risks be weighed? thank you. Evie

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Hello @emc and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thank you for your questions. @colleenyoung has submitted your question to Dr. Poland for consideration in next week's podcast.

If interested while we wait for next week's podcast, please join one of the many discussions in the COVID-19 group: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/covid-19/

REPLY

Thank you. I have. It was helpful to know that others had similar issues – though we all agree there is insufficient data and the side effects studied to date do not address neurological side effects – even if minor. thank again, EMC

REPLY
@emc

Dr Poland I am wondering if you could comment on whether or not the post vaccination symptoms of Bell's palsy after an initial dose are of sufficient concern to delay the second dose – as a general recommendation.
I read that the FDA recommended monitoring people for potential cases of Bell's Palsy (4 our of 43, 000 participants in the Pfizer trial developed symptoms of Bell's Palsy) but there is not enough data to show whether the cases were tied directly to the vaccine . In Medpage Today, published April 27th, 2021, you were quoted saying that the VIgiBase findings indicate a "slight imbalance during the phase 111 trials of both mRNA vaccines, suggesting a potential safety signal".. "however no clear signals have been detected in any of the US vaccine surveillance systems"…But I also noted that the VAERS database does not have a specific field to capture neurological symptoms and relies on the comment space. How should the risks be weighed? thank you. Evie

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Hi Evie,
See Dr. Poland's response to your question in this week's podcast starting at minute 14:00.
– Real world effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/podcasts/newsfeed-post/real-world-effectiveness-of-covid-19-vaccines/

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How can i encourage my grown children to have grandkids ages 12-15 vaccinated. My adult children had their vaccinations for Covid19 with no problem, but they seem hesitant to have their daughters vaccinated. Thanks for any suggestions.

REPLY
@jal333

How can i encourage my grown children to have grandkids ages 12-15 vaccinated. My adult children had their vaccinations for Covid19 with no problem, but they seem hesitant to have their daughters vaccinated. Thanks for any suggestions.

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Good evening @jal333, This must be an issue with how to be a good parent. My daughter is also hesitant for her youngest daughter because of a number of issues she has had with her menstrual cycles. She is also very tiny and her mother doesn't think she is strong enough to withstand side effects from the vaccine.

Tonight I watched the MSNBC program on vaccinations. Very impressive. I watched the whole thing and learned a lot about what to say and how to say it.

May you be healthy and whole.
Chris

REPLY
@colleenyoung

Here is the excerpt of Dr. Poland's answer re tinnitus.
"So, this is a very interesting question that you asked me. About an hour after my second dose, I developed severe ringing in my ears. About 10 weeks later, it's starting to decrease. This is called tinnitus. It's a very common phenomena. I've queried the CDC about it. Some 1000 reports have been received in regards to this. So, like any side effect, if you feel you've had a side effect from a vaccine, we ask people please report it, you can go online, and just type in VAERS. And it's an online reporting system that you can report, it's the only way that we can find out about rare safety signals.

So, so far, the number of people who have developed ringing in their ears has not exceeded the expected baseline if there were no COVID vaccines being given. So, what you want to know is by giving a vaccine, are you seeing a higher rate than among people who have not gotten the vaccine, and it has thus far not reached that state, but something to be aware of. By way of encouragement, and I've talked to a number of ENTs about this, they believe that if that's real, it's on a transient or temporary inflammatory basis, and that most all of those will resolve in the six-to-12-month time period. We'll see if that's true. But that seems to be the trend."

In other words, the number of currently reported cases of tinnitus following vaccination for COVID does not exceed the number of tinnitus cases that are generally reported when vaccination is not happening. Experts are not discounting the possibility of tinnitus as a side effect and believe it may be a temporary inflammation response.

Jump to this post

Thank you: this is very relevant to my situation as I've been suffering from tinnitus too since getting my second jab. Has there be any update by Dr Poland since the time of this podcast? Has his situation improved? Has more light been shed on this?

REPLY
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