Ask Nurse Jessica: Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Message from Jessica Johnson, UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison 

Welcome to my monthly column, Ask Nurse Jessica. Since joining Valencia College as your full-time UnitedHealthcare (UHC) nurse liaison, I’ve received numerous questions about how I can help you and your family make better healthcare decisions, provide support and clarification on UHC benefits; demonstrate how to navigate UHC tools and resources; refer you to appropriate wellness programs and services; and provide support for chronic illnesses. To read more about my role, click here.

This column is designed to answer those questions. If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Nurse Jessica” in the subject line. Submissions will be anonymous in The Juice and The Grove and will be addressed monthly as they are received. 

I’ve recently had an influx of questions from employees centered around COVID-19, the vaccines and the possible treatments. Please keep in mind, I am not an expert on COVID. I research and review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration guidelines and pass on the information that I find.

I know the opinions are diverse regarding COVID, the vaccine and its treatment, so I’ve included the information I have below and hope it will help you decide what the best course of action is for you and your family.

Can you share some information on the Delta variant of COVID-19?
The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. It might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people.

  • Vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of contracting the virus that cause COVID-19, including this variant.
  • Vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, including against this variant.
  • Fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections from this variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period.
  • Get vaccinated and wear masks indoors in public spaces to reduce the spread of this variant.

If I get COVID, should I receive the monoclonal antibody COVID-19 infusion?  
That is a decision you will have to make for yourself but, I can say that data shows that the sooner people receive this treatment, the better their outcomes. There is no way to predict how sick a person will get with COVID. Delaying treatment could lead to worsening symptoms and then becoming ineligible to receive the medication. You must receive it within 10 days of when your symptoms begin.

I have COVID but want to get the vaccine now (or I have COVID and received the vaccine but want a booster).  When is the soonest I can get it?
You should still be able to get the booster but will not need it right away. You will need to wait about 90 days after your treatment to receive the vaccine to ensure it is effective. You will be protected by your own immunity from this infusion for this time period.

What if I miss getting the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC recommends getting the second dose as close to the recommended timing of three to four weeks as possible. If you miss your second vaccination appointment or are outside the three- to four-week timing, you can still get the second dose and you won’t need to start over with a first dose. And even if the second dose is late, the second dose will still help you get protection from COVID-19.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial two doses, but not immediately. The goal is for people to start receiving a COVID-19 booster shot beginning in the fall, with individuals being eligible starting eight months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). This is subject to authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you.

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that female or male fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.

Can I get the flu shot and the COVID vaccine at the same time?
Yes.

I have/have had COVID, can/should I get the regular flu shot?
According to the CDC, you are good to get the flu vaccine after having COVID as long as you are no longer having acute symptoms of illness.

If you have additional questions, contact me at jessica_r_johnson@uhc.com or 407-866-8134

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