Why it’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine: Q&A with Dr. Karen Lamp

August 16, 2021

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, especially among unvaccinated people, we speak to Venice Family Clinic’s Dr. Karen Lamp about the importance and benefits of getting the vaccine.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is very, very safe. All the vaccines we have available to us in the United States have been studied and tested by scientists to the same standards as other vaccines, such as the vaccines for measles, mumps and pneumonia.

I heard the vaccine can make you feel sick. I can’t afford to take time off from work if I get sick.

Some people don’t have any reaction at all to the vaccine. Other people do have a reaction, which can be mild, like having sore muscles or feeling tired, to more intense feelings of illness like high fever. This is more common after the second dose and is normal. These mild side effects mean that the vaccine is teaching your body how to fight the virus. You can schedule your second shot the day before you have a day off, if you are concerned about side effects affecting your ability to work. For most people, these side effects go away in a day or two. Contact your clinician if your symptoms last more than three days.

You may be eligible for paid sick leave from your employer if you feel sick after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to learn more.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine work? I know people who are vaccinated and have gotten COVID-19 anyway.

As long as you get the full number of doses, the COVID-19 vaccine is very effective at preventing severe infection that would send you to the hospital and at preventing death from COVID-19. We are now seeing a small number of fully vaccinated people getting infected with the Delta variant. These are called “breakthrough infections.” This is why everyone needs to be careful and wear a mask inside public spaces.

If you are immunocompromised in any way, meaning you have a medical condition or are taking a medication that lowers your immune system, the COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective for you. You must take extra steps to stay safe: Wear a mask and keep your distance from people who don’t live with you at all times.

As of the end of July, less than 1% of fully vaccinated people in Los Angeles County tested positive for the virus, and even fewer vaccinated people were hospitalized. Almost 100% of people who have died from COVID-19 this year were unvaccinated.

What is the Delta variant? Why do I keep hearing about it?

The Delta variant is a newer strain of COVID-19 that is more contagious than previous versions of the virus. The Delta variant is the cause for the recent surge in cases and is the most common strain in the U.S.

Symptoms of the Delta variant are mostly the same as symptoms from the original strain of COVID-19. Remember, most people who are getting sick, being hospitalized and dying are unvaccinated. Most fully vaccinated people who get infected with the Delta variant experience mild symptoms and fully recover at home.

I have a medical condition. Is it safe for me to get the vaccine?

Some medical conditions could put you at higher risk of having more problems due to a COVID-19 infection. These include advanced age, diabetes, obesity, lung or heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. You actually have the most to benefit from the vaccine! As long as your health care clinician says it’s safe for you to get the vaccine, you should get it.

I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, we recommend you get the vaccine even if you have previously had COVID-19. You can get it as soon as you are feeling better and no longer in isolation. So far, scientists don’t know how long natural immunity lasts. But we do know that getting a vaccine gives you a strong boost to your COVID-19 immunity and will protect you from getting very sick.

I’m a healthy person. How will getting the vaccine help me?

Not only will you be protected from getting seriously ill, having to go to the hospital and even dying in case you do catch COVID-19, you can protect your family, friends and community by getting vaccinated. You also may have COVID-19 and not know it. This is called an asymptomatic infection, meaning you don’t have any symptoms of the disease even though you are infected. Even though you don’t have symptoms, you still might pass it to someone else who could get very sick.

Can’t I just let other people get the vaccine instead?

Until most people are vaccinated, we will continue to see new and possibly more dangerous variants of COVID-19. The only way to end this pandemic is to get vaccinated.

Venice Family Clinic urges everyone who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible!

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. You do not need to show a government-issued ID or proof of insurance. Click here for more information.

Venice Family Clinic offers the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer (two doses, for ages 12+), Moderna (two doses, for ages 18+) and Johnson & Johnson (one dose, for ages 18+). If you would like to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, call our vaccine scheduling line at (310) 664-7894. To make an appointment to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, visit https://myturn.ca.gov/ and enter the zip code for the Venice Family Clinic location you prefer:

604 Rose Avenue (Rose) – 90291
4700 Inglewood Blvd (Colen) – 90230
905 Venice Blvd (Levine) – 90291
2509 Pico Blvd (Simms/Mann) – 90405

If you do not have access to a computer or need help, call (833) 540-0473 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.