Will the COVID-19 vaccines being researched be effective for everyone?

This week we’re bringing you the another question submitted by our one of our clients and social media followers! If you have a question you’d like to submit, please email us here.

Question:
It is my understanding that many of the vaccines that are being developed for COVID-19 work best with people in the middle age group, i.e., not children and seniors.  Given that many of us who have Rheumatoid Arthritis are seniors, will the vaccines be effective for us too?

Answer:
Thank you for your question regarding vaccination development for COVID-19.  There are currently several vaccines being researched and they are not all produced the same way. It is true that an immature immune system, just as an older immune system or one of an immunocompromised person, may not respond as well to a vaccine than a healthy young adult.  Higher levels of immune response can be generated for all ages, based on the way a vaccine is produced.  Often a vaccine requiring a series of 2 shots may offer a higher level of protection.  Of the vaccines being researched, some will require 2 doses and the processes being used to produce these vaccines is not all the same.  We won’t have the answer to the level of immune protection that each of these vaccines will offer in different age groups or in compromised individuals until the research is complete.  Once vaccines are available, ongoing ‘post-market’ research will be needed to answer many questions, including how long immune protection will last once a vaccine is received.  It may be necessary to repeat certain vaccines annually.

Regardless of which type of vaccine is available to Canadians, the concept of herd immunity is so important!  Based on the rate of transmission of a virus, we calculate what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to offer protection to everyone; including the most vulnerable.  This will be a very important calculation to have when we get the COVID-19 vaccine. Immunizing a large portion of the population will be required.

Here is a great summary of how vaccines are made and the types of vaccines under development for COVID-19 currently.

Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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