To submit questions for a future Q and A column, please send them here: TinyURL.com/AskSvP
Question from Daniel Espinoza:
"Is there a blood test to find out if the COVID vaccine was successful and helped your body create antibodies?"
Answer from Jacob Ingber:
"You’ve probably heard about getting antibody tests to see if you’ve previously been infected by SARS-CoV-2. These tests check to see if you have antibodies against either the coronavirus spike protein or nucleocapsid protein.
The COVID-19 vaccines are designed so that your body will make antibodies against the coronavirus spike protein. So, technically you could get one of these antibody tests. But, the CDC does not recommend getting an antibody test after vaccination.
This is because if the test checks for antibodies against the spike protein, you won’t necessarily know if the antibodies are from the vaccine or a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.
More importantly, at this point there is no clinical utility for getting such a test. We don’t know how many antibodies you need to be protected - it isn’t a simple yes or no answer - so you won’t be able to interpret these results. We do know that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing disease.
What does this all mean? You should get the vaccine when you are eligible, and then keep following CDC guidelines on mask-wearing and social gatherings. Like most things in life, the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100%, so you should continue to be careful, especially around unvaccinated individuals, but at this point you shouldn’t worry about trying to find out if it worked or not. This may change in the future as we learn more, but for now this isn’t something you need to worry about."
Question from anonymous:
"What IS pandemic etiquette?"
Answer from Mina Yu:
"Pandemic Etiquette is a term we coined to describe guidelines for politeness in our current world. Of course, this encompasses the more obvious things—please wear masks in public and adhere to social distancing guidelines—but it also covers some trickier situations: things that were polite or courteous before, like holding a door for someone, might make people uncomfortable now, for instance and things that would have been impolite before, such as not attending a live wedding when invited, might even be considered the responsible thing to do.
Whatever your social dilemma is, we are here to help you untangle the trickiness that comes with living in a world that has been so drastically upended over the past year."
Question from Prerna Jha:
"What, in your opinion, is the best way to spread awareness related to pandemic etiquette among our peers in a simple way?"
Answer from Mina Yu:
"One way to spread awareness would be to share links and infographics containing pandemic etiquette and other useful information on your social media platforms (you can find ones from SvP here).
I think, though, that you will find that you are best posed to have an impact on those around you: your friends, family, and peers. If you notice that a friend is regularly outside without a mask, for instance, that might be your opportunity to politely let them know that this is considered a breach of etiquette and might put vulnerable people at risk.
Perhaps the best way to spread pandemic etiquette and awareness, though, is setting a good example yourself! Be sure to keep yourself informed and to follow appropriate guidelines for behavior yourself—actions can often speak louder than words (especially when you have to talk muffled through a mask)."
The preceding questions may have been edited from their original form for clarity.
The answers provided reflect the opinions of those writing the column only, and do not reflect the endorsements of Students vs Pandemics as an organization.
Results from ongoing research and the current understanding of COVID-19 are constantly evolving. This post contains information that was last updated on April 2, 2021.