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Premier Medical Laboratory Services addresses common COVID-19 questions

As the first in a series of upcoming scientific panel discussions hosted at Premier Medical Laboratory Services (PMLS), Dr. Brian Krueger, Chief Scientific Officer of PMLS, and Dr. Stewart Holt, Molecular Diagnostic Technical Supervisor, talk about a wide range of COVID-19 topics including variants, masks, and vaccines.

Dr. Krueger currently oversees scientific functions at PMLS and developed the first commercially authorized SARS CoV-2 COVID-19 test. Meanwhile, Dr. Holt holds over 25 years of experience as a genetics and diagnostics scientist.

Both tackle the misconceptions many of us may have encountered across social media. The CDC says misconceptions or misinformation play a big part in many Americans not wearing masks and not getting vaccinated. Dr. Krueger says, “there’s a lot of misinformation about masks out there,” and we should remember “there’s no question that masks are effective in reducing the transmission of the disease.” The CDC recently said this is especially true for kids under 12 who are still not able to get the vaccine. Dr. Holt adds that masks are “their only primary defense right now.”

The good news is, Pfizer says it’s COVID vaccine is now safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. But as they get ready to submit for emergency use authorization, there’s still vaccine hesitancy among American adults and parents unwilling to get their kids vaccinated. “The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you get vaccinated, you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for your community, you’re doing this to protect your children, you’re doing it for your loved ones,” says Dr. Krueger.

Amid the Delta variant, The CDC has been pushing vaccinations even more, leading to a new nationwide vaccine mandate by the President. The Delta variant is more contagious, and Dr. Holt says, “it has the ability to evade the immune system, which is designed to locate and identify bacteria to clear them from system to prevent infections… that being said our vaccines are still effective against the covid variant.”

So, how does the vaccine fight COVID-19? Dr. Krueger says, “the purpose of the vaccination is to train your B cells, a type of white blood cells, to generate antibodies that are then able to bind to the virus and neutralize it, which essentially means that it prevents the virus from binding to your cells and infecting them.” After being vaccinated, people may still get symptoms like arm pain, chills, or even a fever. This is a natural response and Dr. Holt stressed that “it doesn’t mean you’ve been infected with the virus, or something has been transmitted to you. That’s just your immune system working and it’s a good thing.”

Another challenge our scientists discussed is the upcoming flu season. This will be the second year we’ll have COVID-19 during flu season, which starts in October, and although flu cases were at an all-time low last year, our scientists still want us to have our guards up. “We need to keep in mind that the flu and coronavirus are not going to go away and… our best strategy moving forward and protecting us from hospitalization and death is getting vaccinated every year,” stated Dr. Krueger.

But can you get the flu vaccine and COVID vaccine at the same time? You can find the answer by clicking to watch the full panel discussion below, along with much more from our scientists.