Pleasure to meet you doctor. It's the question everyone in Korea is asking after more than a year of wearing masks. Do masks still have to be worn after vaccination?
"So it's possible that you can become infected but not develop severe disease or not require hospitalization, all very important things, but you could still potentially expose other people to COVID-19 if you become infected. So wearing masks is an important part not only in protecting yourself but again and very critically, about protecting others."
It'll take time to achieve herd immunity, when 70 percent of the country has COVID-19 antibodies.
The government is aiming to reach that level by November.
But for those who get the first dose, how long will they be protected?
"We don't know how long protection lasts. So far, four to five months, the vaccines appear to be working fine. We do know that the level of infection fighting protein goes down with time, but at this point, there's still enough antibody that's detectable that people should continue to be protected but we don't know for sure People should be safe getting a second vaccination at some period after the original 28 days or 21 days depending on the vaccine/"
With each dose, the recipient will be monitored for at least the next 15 minutes in case of any immediate adverse reactions.
So what possible side effects should people be aware of?
"Many people will experience headache and fatigue and weakness, feeling tired. Some people will feel sick. A lot of people experience arm pain. But again, these are fairly common, they don't last long and they tend to go away within the first 24 to 48 hours."
More and more countries are reporting COVID-19 variants. Will the vaccines offer protection against variants also?
"Now did it work as well as it does against the original strains. No. But it does prevent severe disease and severe disease is what hurts people, what puts them in the hospital, what causes death. So again, the vaccines will still work "
Lastly, what message do you have for those who don't want to get the vaccines?
"We really do need to convince everyone to take the vaccine The best way to fight against the virus is not only to vaccinate yourself but to encourage other people to be vaccinated And we need to create positive socialization around it. You know, if it's getting BTS to be vaccinated, in front of everybody, then we have to do it."
Dr. Kim, such an educational experience talking to you. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.