North Atlanta Primary Care

Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As you all might have heard and seen on the news, the FDA and CDC are ceasing all Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine administration due to rare blood clot formation in 6 people out of almost 7 million people who have received the vaccine across the US. The blood clots developed in these 6 people 2 weeks after receiving their Janssen vaccine. In order to reevaluate its safety and efficacy, the CDC and FDA are working on getting more information. However, until this has been resolved or until North Atlanta Primary Care (NAPC) has an alternative in place, NAPC will not be administering the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. If you have an appointment in the upcoming weeks for a COVID-19 vaccine at NAPC, you will receive a call to inform you of the status of your vaccine. If you have not received a call in the next few days regarding your COVID-19 vaccine, please call 770-442-1911 for more information.

Again, these blood clots are extremely rare. If you have already received a dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine please monitor yourself for any signs of severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within two weeks after vaccination. If symptoms arise please contact NAPC immediately at 770-442-1911 to discuss the symptoms with a healthcare provider.

NAPC strongly believes that staying safe and vaccinations are the key to overcoming this pandemic. Please make sure you continue to wear a mask in public, wash your hands frequently, and watch your distance around others. If you have access to receive the Moderna of Pfizer vaccines please get vaccinated. NAPC is here if you have any questions regarding your health, COVID-19, and vaccinations. Thank you for your understanding.

 

Kind Regards,

North Atlanta Primary Care

NAPC’s Response to COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ’s

Posted on March 08, 2021 by Thomas E. Bat, MD, CEO

NAPC’s Response to COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ’s

Can you discuss COVID-19 Immunity?

Immunity is a word used to describe how our immune systems make antibodies to protect us from infections. Immunity is a natural process and occurs after an infection with a virus or bacteria. The best way we can create immunity is with a vaccine. NAPC's previous COVID-19 newsletters, found at www.napc.md, describe the numerous ways new vaccines work to teach our bodies to fight infection without actually making us sick.

Are All Vaccines Equal in Producing Immunity?

NO. Some vaccines like the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine provide life-long protection after two shots. Tetanus immunizations require boosters around every ten years. Flu shots are updated annually and are modified regularly as the influenza virus changes or mutates. As we begin immunizing people with COVID-19 vaccines, two questions remain: 

  1. How long will immunity last after one or two doses of the COVID-vaccine? 
  2. Should people expect to receive a COVID-19 booster every year?

 

How long does it take to develop Immunity to COVID-19?

Fortunately, there is reliable data on the timeline to develop immunity. After an active COVID-19 infection, you develop "natural immunity" from antibodies after you recover. Natural immunity development may take several weeks, but current data suggests it is hard to catch COVID-19 again after being infected. This data is variable, and scientists will likely study it for many more years. Also, many individuals develop symptoms long after recovering from the initial viral infection, and we are learning much about "long haulers syndrome." If it has been several months since you had an active COVID-19 infection, you should schedule a physical exam with your physician at NAPC. Your physician can measure the concentration of your antibodies against COVID-19 and determine if your lungs, kidneys, pancreas, heart, or other organ systems have suffered damage due to infection. 

Vaccine-induced immunity can vary based on which vaccine you receive. However, current data suggest that you may have full protection just seven days after your booster or 2nd shot. Ongoing trials indicate that you may have 85% protection weeks after even a single dose. The projected level of protection is promising, but as we work to build herd immunity worldwide, continue to mitigate your risk even after vaccinations.

Can you discuss immunological memory?

Immunological memory is the technical term for immunity. Three types of white blood cells help our immune systems protect us: 

  1. Macrophages: These cells will attack and break apart viruses and bacteria when we are sick or shortly after receiving a vaccine. What they leave behind when they are done breaking down viruses and bacteria are known as antigens.
  2. B-lymphocytes: These cells, also known as B-cells, make antibodies to attack the antigens the macrophages left behind. The antibodies are unique for that particular pathogen. Suppose the same infection gets into your body again. In that case, your B cells will make these unique antibodies and kill the infection immediately.
  3. T-lymphocytes: These cells, also known as T-cells, are responsible for taking care of cells that the virus has already infected. They will kill damaged cells and the infection inside of them. These cells are also responsible for remembering every virus and bacteria that we come into contact with during our lives.

COVID-19 antibody testing is a measure of your B-cell antibodies (called IgG and IgM). We are learning to study these levels, and in the future, we will know if you are immune. How long immunity will persist appears to be growing, but we have ongoing studies. One interesting study found that individuals sick with SARS in the early 2000s still maintained similar antibodies. Because of this, experts believe that natural immunity may persist for years.

How long does vaccine-induced immunity last?

When you receive a vaccine, your immune system follows the same process to develop Immunity as it does when you are naturally infected. The same three cells (macrophages, B cells, and T cells) play the same role. But the good news is you DO NOT get sick while your body learns how to protect you from COVID. We hope that vaccine-induced immunity will last for years, but we simply do not know. With the development of numerous variants, people will likely require an annual booster shot. Many of the current vaccines remain in long-term trials, and that data will help guide us in making decisions. Regardless, it is much safer to get the vaccine than to get sick with COVID-19, even if the protection isn't lifelong.

Which vaccine should I choose?

Right now, NAPC only has the Moderna vaccine available in minimal supplies. In trials, it was 94% effective while Pfizer-BioNTech was 95% effective. The newly approved vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is presumably 72-85% effective. However, it is unlikely that these minor differences will significantly impact developing immunity in an individual. Also, the vaccine trials were done in different regions and at other times, with different variants of COVID-19 circulating. The most significant benefit of the J&J vaccine is it is currently recommended as a single dose and is much more stable. Experts are developing blood tests that will help us measure immunity status soon.

Our best advice is to receive a vaccine as soon as you qualify on the GA DPH registration site. NAPC continues to monitor requirements, and we expect to start receiving increased doses in the month of March. However, for the current time, the Federal and GA state government are determining where the limited supply of vaccines are going. We know this methodology is confusing and irritating. We know that you may have many questions and be hesitant to take a new vaccine from a government vaccination site. You may call us or set up a visit to discuss any questions you may have. We will work with all our patients to achieve COVID protection for you and your family.

We are also working with our community hospitals to vaccinate our patients. Please monitor your Follow My Health patient portal for updated vaccination dates and locations. We will share new information weekly.

Final Comments:

Research continues on both treatment for COVID-19, new therapeutics, and vaccine technology. Over the last 11 months, we have shared our knowledge and worked hard to protect our patients and families. Our goal at NAPC is to continue to share information and our time to answer your concerns. By the end of 2021, we hope that herd immunity and treatment will make COVID-19 a manageable viral illness for our society. Remember your health is our number one priority. NAPC never closed and remains available every day to provide quality healthcare to you, your family, and friends. We will continue virtual visits, telephone care, and answer all emails and portal questions. Thank you for your faith and trust in NAPC during this pandemic and over the last three decades. We continue to grow and thrive because of you. Stay safe. Let's all get vaccinated as supplies increase and continue to mitigate the spread of this virus. We remain committed to your health and our quest to end this global pandemic.

 

Respectfully,

Thomas E. Bat, MD

Medical Director NAPC

Alpharetta: 3400-C Old Milton Parkway, Suite 270, Alpharetta, GA 30005
Braselton: 1255 Friendship Road, Suite 130, Braselton, GA 30517
Cumming: 1800 Northside Forsyth Drive, Suite 450, Cumming, GA 30041
East Cobb: 1121 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 450, Marietta, GA 30068
Johns Creek: 4235 Johns Creek Parkway, Suite A, Suwanee, GA 30024
Sandy Springs: 1150 Hammond Dr., Building E, Suite 310, Atlanta, GA 30328
Sugar Hill: 4700 Nelson Brogdon Blvd., Suite 250, Buford, GA 30518
West Paces: 3200 Downwood Circle NW, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30327
Woodstock: 250 Parkbrooke Place, Suite 300, Woodstock, GA 30189

All locations: 770-442-1911