Dr. Kalisha Hill

Dr. Kalisha Hill

Dr. Kalisha Hill

KANKAKEE — Dr. Kalisha Hill, the chief medical officer of AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital Kankakee, answered audience members’ questions about COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday night during a Zoom presentation.

Attendees could submit questions on their registration form or ask questions in the Zoom meeting’s chat function, but remained muted.

Hill started with a presentation that addressed common vaccine questions. Then, she answered questions that were submitted at registration or put in the chat that covered efficacy, mandates, patient groups, side effects, technology and more.

She stressed that the vaccines are safe, being studied carefully by health professionals and are one of the tools that will help the world exit the pandemic.

“That’s why it’s very important to communicate to people the benefits far, far, far outweigh any risk of receiving the vaccine,” she said.

She also noted that individuals should check with their health-care providers if they have chronic illnesses or any specific concerns about the vaccine.

The following are some of the questions posed and answered during the call.

Should people who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated?

Yes, Hill said, because the antibodies developed after being infected eventually fade, but the timing varies from person to person.

“So once your antibodies decrease to a certain level, your protection is basically gone,” Hill said.

The vaccine can lower the chance one will become reinfected and the severity of symptoms if one does, according to Hill.

Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals who have severe allergic reactions after the first dose or have a known history of severe allergic reactions to any vaccine ingredient should not receive it. If you are concerned about having an allergic reaction, you should talk with your doctor or an allergist, according to Hill.

Anyone who has received a different vaccine should wait at least 14 days before getting a COVID vaccine. People isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 also should wait to get the vaccine until they recover or complete isolation, according to Hill.

Are the vaccines safe for people with other health conditions?

The vaccine is safe for cancer patients, people with cardiovascular disease and pregnant and nursing women as long as they are not on immunosuppressive drugs or prone to allergic reaction, Hill said.

Some medications that treat autoimmune diseases like chronic steroids may interfere with the vaccine.

She added that there’s been no indication that the vaccine would have any impact on depression, arthritis or acute pancreatitis.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only authorized vaccine in the U.S. that has a warning referencing a specific group, women between age 18 and 49, because of a few cases of rare blood clots.

What are booster shots and are they necessary?

Hill said that a booster, or another vaccination cycle after the first is complete, is not currently required.

However, she said booster shots could be used to help vaccine recipients continue to update their protections against variants in the future and might be advised if herd immunity is not reached.

“That’s why we all get flu shots every year, to adjust for the mutations and the new strains,” she said.

Coming up next

The hospital will host another virtual Q&A session in Spanish with Dr. Luis Osorio at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 18. A link for access will be made available before the event.

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Meredith Melland earned a BA in journalism from DePaul University, where she worked as a web developer and editor for 14 East, DePaul's online student magazine. She has interned for Chicago magazine and WGN. Her email is mmelland@daily-journal.com.