Weekly Student Communication (TUG + SPS) | March 31, 2021

WPU Student community, 

It’s a short week! As you celebrate the break from campus (April 1+2 off) take time to relax and rejuvenate. Continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands as we head into the home stretch of the semester. 

Earlier this week communication was sent from the Office of the President regarding the Fall 2021 planning (TUG communication and SPS communication). We all hope that a return to something closer to normalcy is in our future and getting vaccinated will help this.

Watch as the Wellness Center team shares a song celebrating the COVID-19 vaccine.  

COVID Corner with Dr. Scott, WPU University Physician

Please note that the content in this section is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Q:  Can students living on campus whose permanent residency is out-of-state receive the vaccine?  

A: I reached out to colleagues at NC State University to ask whether they have any state residency restrictions, and they assured me that they don’t.  I expect this will be the same policy at all universities and colleges going forward.  So the answer is yes – all students will be able to receive the vaccine in NC, regardless of which state you are from.

Q:  Is there any research on possible long term side effects of the vaccine?  I read that these companies are not liable for any side effects.

A: The COVID vaccines will be the most heavily scrutinized vaccines of all time, including monitoring for side effects.  There is not a plausible biologic reason to believe vaccines would or could cause any serious long term effects.  Based on healthcare’s over 50 years of experience with vaccines, the likelihood that a vaccine will cause unanticipated long term problems is extremely low.

Q:  I’ve heard the second shot hurts more than the first, why?  Why does it leave your arm sore at all when other shots don’t?

A: I would dispute the second part of the question – I remember my arm hurting like crazy when I was 5 and got my first polio vaccine (see previous Covid Corner Column).  But your arm may hurt more following the 2nd shot because you already have some immunity to the spike protein antigen after having received the 1st shot.  Your immune system is already geared up and ready to go, so its reaction may be more marked.

Q: I had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) when I was younger and was told by my doctors not to get any vaccines because it could trigger its return.  Is this still valid?

A: I had to do some research on this one.  Fortunately the CDC addressed this specifically in a March 12, 2021 update:  People who previously had GBS may receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  To date, no cases of GBS have been reported following vaccination with the mRNA vaccines.  One case of GBS was reported in a vaccinated participant in the Johnson & Johnson clinical trial, but one case was also reported in a placebo-receiving participant.

Q: Are there any reasons to be scared of this vaccine?

A: Please see my answer above.  The most significant reactions to the different COVID vaccines have been immediate allergic reactions, some of them requiring Epi shots and subsequent ER visits.  All of these reactions have been managed successfully (to my understanding) and have not resulted in deaths, or any long term problems.  There was a death reported in a vaccine recipient who developed severe immune thrombocytopenia (lack of platelets, which is essential for clotting) following the vaccine (mRNA).  There were several other persons who developed the immune thrombocytopenia following the vaccine, and they suspected that there was a relationship, but they weren’t willing to sign off officially.  This was 7 weeks ago, and I haven’t heard anything subsequently.  At the time this reaction was reported, over 31 million doses of vaccine had been administered, so it was definitely an infrequent side effect, if related at all.   And since that report, over 100,000 persons have died of COVID-19 related infection, so you have to put that side effect reaction into context, even if it was vaccine related.

Far and away, the most frequent side effects of the vaccine have been local reactions at the vaccine site, and flu-like symptoms lasting 1-3 days.  Many people note increased fatigue lasting a few days as well.  The reactions are similar, but a little more intense and maybe a few days longer, following the 2nd dose of the mRNA vaccines.  These result from the body’s immune response to the vaccine, which is exactly what it should be doing.  Why it is more marked in some people than others is not known, but is not significant in terms of immunity following the vaccine.  As I have said previously, the vaccines are remarkably effective in preventing subsequent COVID-19 disease (90+ percent).  I would happily receive any of the available vaccines, just as soon as I was offered the opportunity (I received my 2nd Moderna vaccine 3 weeks ago – it just happened to be the vaccine they were administering at the Durham County Health Department).

Q:   Have there been any studies that show the possible effects on people with autoimmune conditions?

A: See response above.  The CDC recommends that persons with weakened immune systems do receive the vaccine, even given the limited data that exists on vaccine safety.  Weakened immune systems put you at much higher risk of complications from COVID-19 infection, and there is no biological or other logical reason to suspect that the vaccines pose a significant risk for persons with autoimmune conditions.

Q:  Which vaccine is best at protecting against COVID-19?

A: Please see my Covid Corner discussion on that topic last week.  When you line the vaccines up against each other, using currently available data, they are all as close to 100% as you can be in terms of preventing COVID related deaths and hospitalizations.  Get the first one that’s offered to you.  Does that mean we won’t need booster doses in the future?  We simply don’t have the data to answer that question right now.  My educated guess would be that booster doses will be required, to cover any COVID variants that emerge, and to address the waning  of immune protection over time that will likely occur following the vaccines.  But that is a guess at this point.

In the meantime, keep your masks on and stay safe!!  Thanks for all that you’re doing!

Ask the Expert: Submit your COVID related health questions to Dr. Scott and questions will be answered in future communications. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS

We will continue to send out weekly emails to include updates and highlights of timely information to ensure a successful semester. These communications will continue to be added to

In Peace,

Office of Communications