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Talk To Us: COVID Questions


BPR is answering listener queries about the Coronavirus in a new segment –Talk to Us: COVID Questions.  BPR’s Helen Chickering brings us this week’s answer.   This week's question comes from Beth Baxley of Macon County. Her question came in just before Federal officials hit the pause button on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“My question is how did the side effect of the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine compared to the side effects of the second of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the under 65 and the over 65-year-old populations.”

Good question.  To find an answer (and again, we're focusing on the common side effects) we reached out to Dr. Chris Parsons, he's an infectious disease expert and medical director for Pardee Center for Infectious Diseases.

“For all three vaccines, although the difference was a bit more obvious with the mRNA vaccines with Pfizer and Moderna, younger patients had greater risk for both local reactions from the vaccine like redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site, as well as more systemic reactions to the vaccine, including muscle aches and fatigue.  And those differences were also seen with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although to a lesser extent.”                                                                                                                                                             

Credit BPR
Pardee Center for Infectious Diseases Medical Director Dr. Chris Parsons answers reporter questions during Pardee's vaccine rollout.

“We think that relates to the immune responses to the vaccine, which may be somewhat more robust in younger individuals. But fortunately, the level of protection is similar for older and younger patients. So, despite having greater risk for side effects of the vaccine, that doesn't mean it works better necessarily for younger patients. They still work very well for older patients, fortunately.”

Do you have a COVID question you'd like answered record a voice memo and email it to us at voices@bpr.org or use the talk to us feature on the free BPR mobile App. I'm Helen Chickering BPR news.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.