Questions & answers

March 10, 2022

Does WashU Med have any ongoing research looking at long COVID?

Long COVID research is an important priority for WashU Med and for the Department of Medicine in particular. Our investigators have already published landmark studies to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem and generate important hypotheses for investigation.

Long COVID requires both high-quality clinical care and rapid research to improve patient care. The CARE Clinic was designed to provide tailored care to COVID patients in tandem with our research collaborations which allow us to generate important insights into how best to care for these patients. Learn more about WashU Med’s long COVID research on the School of Medicine website.

I received both doses of vaccine and one booster but I am wondering if I am over 65, should I get a second booster?

At this time there is no recommendation from the CDC for a routine second booster for those who are not immunocompromised. If you have questions about whether you have a medical condition that warrants a second booster, you should contact your personal physician who understands your specific situation and risk factors.

How can I obtain a replacement vaccination card?

If you were vaccinated through WashU Med or BJC HealthCare, you can access and download your vaccine data from ReadySet or the MyChart patient portal.

March 3, 2022

Is the booster recommended if you have had the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Yes, a booster with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is recommended if you have previously been fully immunized with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
— Eva Aagaard, MD, senior administrator for occupational health

Feb. 24, 2022

Is a fourth shot recommended for people who are immunocompromised?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a total of four doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The four doses are made up of a primary series of three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, plus one booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (fourth dose).

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised include those who have been receiving active cancer treatment or are taking medication to suppress the immune system. Please visit the CDC website for more information on this topic.

Is it possible to enroll in the COVID-19 omicron booster trial that was mentioned in last week’s newsletter?

Yes, the trial is enrolling research participants. To learn more about the trial and eligibility requirements, please email or call 314-454-0058.

Feb. 17, 2022

How does natural immunity work and are there ongoing studies to determine if it provides more protection or less than immunization? What is the risk of getting COVID-19 if you are vaccinated? Boosted? Have had prior COVID-19 infection? All of the above?

After recovering from a COVID-19 infection, most people have immunity that provides very good protection against re-infection for at least three months, and excellent protection from severe re-infection. Studies comparing protection gained by prior infection versus protection generated from vaccination generally show that they are similarly effective, depending on which vaccine was used and the number and timing of doses. People who have been both vaccinated and had prior infection have the highest levels of protection. Prior infection status has not been used as a confirmation of protection because many studies showed considerable variability in protection depending on the severity of the initial infection, whereas the protection from vaccination is more predictable. In addition, antibody tests have not always been reliable at confirming prior infection.

— Steve Lawrence, MD, infectious diseases specialist.

If I’ve had COVID-19 in the past few months, do I still need to get tested and stay home if I have symptoms (presuming it is another cold-causing virus and not SARS-CoV-2?)

We currently do not require you to be tested if you have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days. However, at this time, depending on your symptoms, we may recommend testing for influenza. It is always best to call the COVID-19 Exposure/Illness Hotline at 314-362-5056 to get advice if you have symptoms.

— Eva Aagaard, MD, interim senior administrator for Occupational Health.

Feb. 10, 2022

When should one receive the booster after having COVID?

You can get boosted as early as 10 days after infection and should get boosted within 30 days if at all possible. 

— Eva Aagaard, MD, interim director of Occupational Health, and Steven Lawrence, MD, infectious diseases specialist

Why are we still requiring masks when we are all vaccinated?

A decision to change the masking requirement will depend on the level of community transmission, which is currently high. Also, the omicron variant has the ability to infect those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, although they are very unlikely to become seriously ill. This means that they can get and spread COVID-19. 

When community transmission is lower, we will be able to pull back masking requirements. As long as there are isolation and quarantine requirements for cases, we want to create a work environment where transmission is extremely unlikely. 

— Eva Aagaard, MD, interim director of Occupational Health, and Steven Lawrence, MD, infectious diseases specialist

Many immune compromised patients received boosters in early to mid-fall 2021.  Is it recommended to get an additional booster in 2022?  If so, how many months between boosters?

Right now there are no additional recommendations from the CDC for a second booster. 

— Eva Aagaard, MD, interim director of Occupational Health, and Steven Lawrence, MD, infectious diseases specialist