There are endless questions about COVID. Is the incubation period the same for everyone? What’s viral shedding and how does that happen? Many of these questions are driven by panic and confusion around public health efforts towards reducing viral spread.
Understanding the virus and following informed safety measures is important to staying safe. Uncertainty around spread from asymptomatic individuals and chance of transmission even after testing negative are reason enough to stick to preventative measures.
A majority of studies confirm that, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus from an infected person can start spreading:
Depending upon the severity of the disease, the transmission rate varies from person to person. In cases of mild infections, the shedding period does not persist longer than 10 days. But adults with severe immunocompromisation are likely to shed the virus for more than 60 days.
Some verified sources claim that traces of viral RNAremainin recovered patients for more than 30 days. Furthermore, a patient who tested negative in the PCR test continues to spread the virus through the gastrointestinal tract. So, the uncertainty about viral shedding has made the federal government implement strict masking laws, sanitization, and the use of personal protective equipment as the preliminary measures to control viral spread.
With the deployment of vaccinations, public health officials are more relaxed and hopeful. However, confusing information around the vaccine is causing more anxiety for some people. There are questions about viral shedding and how protective this measure really is.
NBC News recently published a story about a Butcher shop owner in Ontario. He requested vaccinated people to stay away from the shop and opt for a curbside pick-up option, because he believes that vaccinated people could shed the virus, affecting the health of female shoppers and employees.
Although medical authorities have refuted this claim, rumors about it are still flooding social media. Some claim that post-COVID vaccination our body releases viral particles from the vaccine, severely affecting women's menstrual cycle and fertility. But, doctors have clarified that though vaccines show mild side effects, it is safe for women (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) to get vaccinated.
In order to combat the myths associated with transmission through vaccination, it is imperative to understand the COVID-19 vaccine and the way it functions in our bodies.
In the USA, there are two types of vaccine available: Messenger RNA and viral vector vaccines. Both mRNA and Johnson & Johnson manufactured viral vector vaccines that instruct the body to produce antibodies to fight off coronavirus infection. The only difference is that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains adenovirus that will not multiply, and mRNA vaccine contains molecules that are incapable of infection and degrade within a short time. So, it seems that vaccine shedding is a myth, as it’s not possible.
Though vaccines cause side effects in certain people, there is no proof of component emissions. The Johnson & Johnson manufactured viral vector vaccine was the only vaccine that got banned recently, as it caused blood clotting in six women. But, to date, there is no evidence-based report on vaccine shedding from any of the COVID vaccines.
In an interview given to Reuters, the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 Clinical Team states the vaccine is made up of dead viruses that are incapable of causing infection. The mRNA virus inside the vaccine carries instructions to spike proteins that help to boost immune power.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health (NIH) warns that people who are vaccinated should not roam around without preventive measures in public places as there is a not insignificant chance of reinfection. At the same time, the NIH rules out the claim of vaccine shedding, calling it a rumor that spreads mistrust through society.
Many people believe that vaccination means they can abandon all preventative measures and are immune. But although guidelines are relaxed for vaccinated individuals, it’s important to still practice preventative measures to protect you from reinfection.
Blindly believing and sharing fake news can lead people to not follow preventative measures. Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president for practice activities at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has pointed out that such unverified news reduces people’s confidence in public health systems and safety policies and hinders the efforts of public health workers.
Whether you are vaccinated or not, taking preventive measures will help ensure your safety. Here are some instructions and WHO introduced safety guidelines to tackle uncontrolled transmission:
Since a lot of fake news and rumors are spreading questioning the effectiveness of vaccines, it’s a good idea to verify any information with verified, science-backed sources like WHO, UNICEF, NIH, and CDC. Vaccination is the best way to boost immunity and decrease the fatality rate.
Here are some safety guidelines from UNICEF that must be followed before, during, and after vaccination.
If you are suffering from any kind of allergy or disease, it is best to consult a doctor to make sure that you are safe to take the vaccine. This is the best way to eliminate risk factors. People with mild symptoms of COVID-19 can also wait until getting a negative test result to get their vaccine.
While you are at the vaccination center, follow safety guidelines - wear a mask, stay socially distant, and inform the medical professional if you have any health issues. Make sure to get your record of vaccine, because you will need it for your second dose appointment.
As mentioned, minor side effects like dizziness, fever, headache, body pain, diarrhea are common to most people. But if any of them exist for a long period, consult a medical practitioner.
If you have any doubt or confusion regarding the COVID vaccine or your health status, get expert guidance and personalized advice from doctors instead of believing and sharing unverified news or personal and isolated experiences.
Understanding genomics, virology, and preventive measures are necessary to control the spread of the virus. The nature of viral shedding in asymptomatic and presymptomatic infection is still being researched. At the same time, the possibility of vaccine shedding has been dismissed by medical professionals.
For now, following safety guidelines and getting vaccinated are the best preventive measures you can take. Fact-check any information you read and join forces with public health professionals to break the chain of transmission.
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