Pandemic 3.0: Experts, Residents Talk Booster Shots, Long COVID Symptoms   

Westland resident Lena Nichols, left, prepares to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church vaccine clinic on Thursday, October 7.

Photo by Herbert Taylor

 

With her vaccine card in hand, Westland resident Lena Nichols, 88, waited her turn for her first booster shot against COVID-19 recently.  

On Thursday, October 7 at Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, 29066 Eton St., Nichols was one of the dozens of people who lined up for their vaccine – either as first or second-timers or to receive their booster.   

A booster dose of a vaccine is an additional dose that is used to “boost” the immune response to a specific virus. It’s not unusual to need a booster vaccine we have boosters for many viruses.  

For those who received the two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it’s recommended some people get a booster dose at least six months after the second shot. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the six months in between your second dose and booster is needed to make the booster shot more effective.  

Nichols, who received a booster along with her 68-year-old daughter, told the Michigan Chronicle that she wants to stay healthy, especially since she lives alone.  

“I didn’t want to have to get the virus and figure out (what’s next),” Nichols said, adding that she received her first shot of the Moderna vaccine in January, and the second one in February.  

  

“I believe in the science,” she said.  

Nichols, also a member of Gethsemane, was vaccinated through the church’s weekly vaccine drive on Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  

Pastor John Edward Duckworth told the Michigan Chronicle that the clinic has been running periodically since the summer in collaboration with the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity.  

He said that he is now, for the most part, dealing with the hesitant crowd.  

“People getting it now were the ‘wait and see’ crowd,” he said, adding that he had to sit and pray with a lot of people before they took the shot. Some he even went with them as they received the vaccine. “A lot of young people… (I) worked on them.”  

Duckworth said that his elderly mother recently received her booster shot and a lot of people who are now getting vaccinated have suffered from symptoms of long COVID.  

“We may not know the total outcome,” he said, adding that for those hesitant in the African American community they need to do some more soul searching and looking into getting vaccinated. “We can’t get sucked into the nonsense.”  

According to the Mayo Clinic, long COVID is having symptoms persist for months, which can damage the lungs, heart, and brain, leading to long-term health problems.  

Detroit resident Iesha Paul, 29, told the Michigan Chronicle that she wants to avoid long COVID and she might consider getting a booster shot if it becomes available to her. Presently, booster shots are available to people 65 years and older or with health problems.  

“Overall, I am in pretty good health. However, I do live with an autoimmune condition. While it doesn’t severely impact my day-to-day, I am on medication to manage it,” she said. I’m interested in getting the booster because it’s clear that I can’t trust a lot of other people to get vaccinated…At this point, it’s mutated so much that the thought of contracting the virus, vaccinated or not, scares me. I do plan to get the booster shot before the end of the year.”  

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, an infectious disease specialist in Ann Arbor, told the Michigan Chronicle that although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions.   

“Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions,” she said. These conditions can present as different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.”  

 Bagdasarian said that people commonly report experiencing different combinations of some symptoms including:  

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath  
  • Tiredness or fatigue  
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)  
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)  
  • Cough  
  • Chest or stomach pain  
  • Headache  

   

“Some people who had severe illness with COVID-19 experience multiorgan effects or autoimmune conditions over a longer time with symptoms lasting weeks or months after COVID-19 illness. Multiorgan effects can affect many, if not all, body systems, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions,” she added.   

She also said that it’s important to get the vaccine, especially this fall.  

“In addition, MDHHS is urging Michigan residents to face COVID-19 and the flu together by getting the flu vaccine along with their COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time as all other vaccines. Extensive experience has demonstrated that when vaccines are administered at the same time versus alone the effectiveness and adverse reactions are similar,” she said, adding that vaccines could also include an even younger age group for children four to 11 years old. “Pfizer has submitted for authorization to vaccinate younger age groups and we await authorization and guidance from FDA, ACIP, and CDC.”  

  

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recently spoke about the city offering booster shots at all city-run vaccination sites, following FDA approval.   

Fully vaccinated individuals may receive the booster shot if they completed their Pfizer vaccine series at least six months prior. At this time, the booster is available only for residents who received the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still awaiting approval.  

“According to the CDC, unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from Covid than vaccinated ones and the Delta variant likely will be here in full force by November,” said Mayor Duggan. “I can’t recommend strongly enough that anyone who can get the booster, go to one of our vaccination sites and get it as soon as possible so you can be protected and stay safe.”  

Pfizer booster shots are strongly encouraged and available now for the following groups:  

  • Detroit residents 65 years and older       
  • Detroit residents 18 through 64 years of age are at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions  
  • Individuals 18 or older living or working in Detroit whose occupation puts them at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure.  

According to the CDC, occupations at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission include frontline essential workers and health care workers including:  

  •         First responders- fire, police, EMS  
  •         Health care, long term care  
  •         Education staff- teachers, support staff, daycare  
  •         Food and agriculture  
  •         Manufacturing  
  •         Corrections  
  •         Postal Service  
  •         Public Transit  
  •         Grocery store   

Booster shots will be available at all City of Detroit vaccination sites including all ten walk-in centers, as well as home visits.  

Appointments are encouraged for all vaccination sites, call 313-230-0505 or schedule an appointment online at www.vaccinatedetroit.com. Walk-ins are welcome. Bring a vaccination card to the appointment.  

Third shots are also available at all sites for all immunocompromised residents after 28 days following completion of their two-dose series of Pfizer and Moderna. Anyone unsure should consult with their medical provider.  

 

 

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