Limited health flexibility with the Covid vaccine in the early days

As the cantons begin to open up vaccinations for the youngest, this is putting the Swiss population in doubt. While many are excited about a return to normalcy, health authorities’ advice is more cautious. With a few exceptions, hygiene and safety rules must be respected, including by people who have been vaccinated.

Will vaccinated grandparents be able to meet with relatives? Can we hug each other if we get vaccinated? When will you become immune to the virus? In Switzerland, these questions are becoming more and more frequent among the population as vaccinations are carried out in the country.

While there is hope that vaccination offers a way out of the crisis, current health advice remains cautious about the changes it can make to our daily lives. Relaxation in the face of health care rules will be possible, but caution is required on the part of the authorities at this time.

An overview of the main issues related to vaccination:

Who is not recommended to be vaccinated?

According to the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP), “vaccination is contraindicated in cases of known severe hypersensitivity to one or more of the vaccine components.” Two vaccines introduced in Switzerland, Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna, contain polyethylene glycol (PEG) as a potentially allergenic ingredient. Vaccination of children and young people under 18 with Moderna vaccine and under 16 with Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine is also not currently recommended.

For all of these populations, data on vaccine use are still insufficient. As for people with immunodeficiency who are at high risk of developing a severe form of the disease, data are not yet available. In such cases, FOPH recommends that professionals assess the benefit / risk ratio of vaccination.

Can pregnant women get vaccinated?

FOPH points out that “Covid-19 vaccination can now be considered for a larger group of high-risk pregnant women who wish to be vaccinated.” This group includes “all pregnant women with one of the chronic conditions that qualify them as vulnerable people, as well as those who are particularly at risk of infection, such as medical personnel”.

Health authorities clarify that in these cases, vaccination can be carried out after a “careful assessment of the risks and benefits” after consultation with a specialized medical team. In addition, the vaccine should not be given during the first trimester of pregnancy.

>> Check out the 19:30 thread on a pregnant woman’s difficult vaccine decision:

In Switzerland, recommendations for vaccination of pregnant women against Covid remain unclear / 19:30 / 2 min. / April 21, 2021

When do you become immune to the virus?

The first dose of the Covid vaccine is already protecting, according to the Federal Office of Health Service (OFSP). “We are seeing high protection against symptomatic infections two weeks after the first injection,” FOPH recently said, which has long been cautious about this. The second dose then consolidates it, reaching an efficacy of about 95%.

“The data clearly show that after dosing, from 14 to 28 days – the time of the second injection – the RNA vaccines are about 90% effective,” adds Blaise Genton, Unisanté’s chief physician in charge of vaccination in the canton of Vaud.

>> Listen again to La Matinale’s topic on post-vaccination immunity:

When does post-vaccination immunity against Covid-19 begin? / Morning / 1 min. / April 6, 2021

How effective are the available vaccines?

The two vaccines available in Switzerland are “very effective (about 94%) against SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthy and vulnerable people,” state health authorities say.

Effectiveness against transmission of the virus has not yet been clearly defined. “Vaccinated people may be less likely to transmit the virus to other people,” says FOPH. More data is expected on this. ”

Authority recommendations for hygiene and protection. [OFSP]Authority recommendations for hygiene and protection. [OFSP]Should we observe barrier gestures after the first dose?

Only people fully vaccinated with two injections will be able to do without distance and a mask, and this is only in front of another person in the same case. “Full vaccination means getting both doses and 14 days after the second injection,” FOPH says.

This is the only exception so far. In all other cases recommended protection measures remain, even in the face of someone who has already been infected with Covid-19.

Should quarantine and isolation measures continue to be followed during vaccination?

People already vaccinated (with the mRNA vaccine) or recovered from Covid-19 can be exempted from contact quarantine for six months, two weeks after receiving the second dose, FVC President Christoph Berger said on Tuesday.

On the other hand, if they return from a country at risk, the immunized people must quarantine themselves due to the varieties of the virus, which the authorities want at all costs to avoid being “imported” to Switzerland.

“Indeed, although vaccination provides very high protection, the possibility of infection cannot be completely ruled out,” explains FOPH. Thus, a person who tests positive for the new coronavirus can indeed be infected, even if he has been vaccinated. “

>> Re-read La Matinale’s thread on Covid-19 immunity:

As vaccinations continue, the issue of Covid-19 immunity remains unresolved. [RTS]
As vaccination progresses, the question of immunity to Covid-19 remains unanswered (video) / News / 3 min. / January 25, 2021

Can I get vaccinated after being infected with Covid-19?

Of recent research show that most people who become infected with Covid-19 and show symptoms are protected from the new infection for at least six months. Therefore, authorities recommend waiting six months before vaccinating people with Covid-19.

However, this rule does not apply to vulnerable people “who need to be vaccinated as early as three months after infection.” In some specific cases, FOPH indicates that vaccination is also possible as soon as symptoms disappear.

People who have tested positive for Covid-19 and who do not fall into the vulnerable category also need just one dose of the vaccine. The authorities point out that a single injection is recommended in these cases due to: study showed that infected people who received one dose of the vaccine, after two doses, develop an immune response similar to that of people without Covid-19.

>> Check out the 19:30 thread about former Covid patients who may need one dose of vaccine:

Should a single dose of vaccine be given to immunized people? FOPH is taking a timid step in this direction. [RTS]
Should a single dose of vaccine be given to immunized people? FOPH is taking a timid step in this direction. / 19:30 / 2 min. / March 24, 2021

The idea behind a single injection is to rely on herd immunity to save doses and vaccinate as many people as possible. However, at this stage, it is a recommendation that leaves it to people in this particular situation to choose whether to take the second dose or not.

Will we be eligible for a vaccination certificate if we only received one dose?

With a vaccine passport, people who have been vaccinated will be considered fully vaccinated, regardless of whether they received one dose because they were previously immunized through a Covid-19 infection, or both.

>> Listen again to the CQFD topic on certificate of vaccination issues:

Covid Certificate, Medical and Ethical Issues / CQFD / 26 min. / today at 10:04

How long does the vaccine protect?

According to FOPH, “it is not known how long the protection will be guaranteed, but this duration can be estimated from our own experience.” Health authorities do not rule out that after the second injection, periodic revaccination is necessary.

For its part,, a vaccination information platform, indicates that it is possible that “the efficacy of messenger RNA vaccines remains very high for many years, or that it declines after 3-4 months to increase. Then it stabilizes, or even that it is constantly decreasing. “

>> Check out thread 19:30 on the possibility of multiple dose vaccinations:

Faced with progression of variants and uncertainty about the duration of immunity, vaccination with three or more doses becomes more accurate. [RTS]
Faced with the progression of variants and uncertainty about the duration of immunity, vaccination at three doses or more is becoming more accurate / 19:30 / 2 min. / Sunday at 19:30

Are Covid-19 variants resistant to modern vaccines?

Vaccination efficacy is not diminished compared to the UK version (B.1.1.7) “at the current level of knowledge,” FOPH points out. With regard to the options from South Africa (501.V2) and Brazil (P.1), the authorities clarify that “an impact on vaccine efficacy cannot be ruled out,” adding that the situation is being closely monitored.

Regarding the Indian variant (B.1.617), which is of concern due to its characteristics and the rapid deterioration of the health situation in India, there is currently no evidence that it reduces the effectiveness of vaccines, even if experts do so. I don’t think it’s trivial.

>> Listen again to the interview in the Forum by Laurent Kaiser, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Head of the Virology Laboratory at Geneva University Hospitals:

First case of Indian variant of Covid-19 detected in Switzerland: interview with Laurent Kaiser / Forum / 5 min. / Saturday at 18:00

Isabelle Ares and Delphine Janora

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