What is the suggested time between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines? Is it possible to encounter an adverse reaction if you receive other vaccines after getting this one? Since China has carried out a massive domestic vaccination program, when are we expected to reach herd immunity? Thank you.
This is a very specialized question, so I would like to invite Prof. Wang Huaqing to answer it.
Thanks for your question. Because the COVID-19 vaccine is new, the question you asked is not only a question that concerns the public but also one that professionals must conduct research on. Some time ago, we organized some experts to study and verify this issue. In order to monitor adverse reactions, suspected adverse reactions, and other considerations, we have studied whether tour novel coronavirus vaccine can be used simultaneously with other vaccines, and if not, how much time should there be between receiving vaccinations. Our findings show that at least two weeks' gap should be guaranteed between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. But in some special instances, the two weeks' recommendation can be waivered. For example, if someone has to be vaccinated against rabies or tetanus after being bitten by animals or are suffering trauma.
We all know that vaccines are external antigens that enter the human body. There will likely be some adverse reactions after vaccination, most of which will be normal reactions that will get better without treatment. However, sometimes there may be suspected adverse reactions with more severe symptoms. If that is the case, we recommend that the person goes to the hospital to receive timely diagnosis and treatment. During this process, if the doctor suspects that the adverse reactions were caused by the vaccine, the case will be reported and further investigation and diagnosis will be followed. In the future, we will continue to monitor and evaluate adverse reactions and suspected adverse reactions related to both the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines.
Just now you mentioned the issue of the immunological barrier, which is something that is of particular concern to the public, and also the direction in which we have been working hard. Everyone knows that COVID-19 is a disease that most or all the public is susceptible to. It has a very high severe co-morbidity rate for people with chronic diseases and the elderly, while some people may eventually lose their lives due to severe illness. According to the results of global monitoring, the global case fatality rate exceeds 2%, which is also relatively high. Under the circumstances, the key for us in controlling this disease is to rely on vaccines. As for other non-vaccine measures, China has made great efforts in various aspects in the early stages. The cost of taking non-vaccine prevention and control measures together has also been very high. We hope that in the future we will build an immunological barrier through vaccination. This is also the conclusion of our experience in controlling past infectious diseases.
Regarding the establishment of herd immunity, this has a lot to do with the protective efficacy of the vaccines and the population's vaccination rate. In the past, we eliminated smallpox and formed a population immunity of around 85% — that is the population immunity, not the vaccination rate. This means that the rate of people with immunity accounted for 85% of the whole population. Measles, which is more contagious, requires 95% of the population to be immune to block the disease. We have eliminated smallpox, and put forward the goal of eliminating measles. The goal of elimination is to prevent it from spreading, so the population must have high immunity.
COVID-19 vaccinations should be carried out step by step. The first step is to consider key populations, those with key jobs and who are at high risk of infection. The second step involves people who may be at risk of severe illness, and the third step involves other groups. In the end, all eligible members of the public will be vaccinated. This is the basis for the establishment of an immunological barrier or herd immunity. Of course, the establishment of such an immunological barrier requires efforts from all sides, including the public. Therefore, we hope that members of the public who received COVID-19 vaccination appointments will actively cooperate, and get vaccinated. Let's work together to build an immunological barrier, so that our studies, work and lives can return to normal. Thank you.