Can I Still Donate Convalescent Plasma? Dr. Mallika Marshall Answers Your Coronavirus Questions

Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions.

Video Transcript

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LISA HUGHES: Many of you reach out to us with your coronavirus questions and we are happy to get the answers. We're the only local TV station with a doctor on staff. And Dr. Mallika Marshall joins us now to answer your questions. And Doctor, want to get to the first one from Giovanna, who writes, "I read that the vaccines are still in clinical trials and the FDA hasn't approved them. I know they've been approved for emergency use, but what does it mean that they are still in trials and the FDA hasn't approved them?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: So the big difference is that to gain FDA approval, volunteers have to be observed for a longer period of time to sort of see how long that vaccine will be protective and to look for any rare side effects that might emerge later on. So volunteers are observed for about six months versus about two months with an emergency use authorization.

Look, an EUA is granted as a temporary authorization to try to get as many vaccines into people's arms as quickly as possible to save lives. But eventually, the vaccine makers will file for FDA approval.

LISA HUGHES: Just a matter of time. All right. Doctor, Peggy is asking on Facebook, "My second Pfizer shot's on April 13. When can I get a cortisone shot for my hip? How long do I have to wait?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: You know, this is a good question, because there really is no evidence to suggest that getting a local cortisone injection is going to blunt your immune response to a COVID vaccine. But there's a theoretical risk. So some experts are saying, try to avoid getting a cortisone injection either within the two weeks before or within the two weeks after you get vaccinated against COVID. Obviously, if you're in a lot of pain, then exceptions can be made. You can talk to your doctor about that.

LISA HUGHES: OK. Now, this comment came to us from Andrea, who also wrote to us on Facebook. "I just recovered from COVID-19 and called the Red Cross to donate convalescent plasma. They said the government shut down the convalescent plasma program. I'm so disappointed, because I wanted something good to come out of my experience."

MALLIKA MARSHALL: Right, so it looks like the Red Cross is actually accepting whole blood donations. And then what they're doing is they're taking those donations that have the highest level of antibodies and saving those for convalescent plasma. So please, I love that you're doing that. Donate whole blood.

LISA HUGHES: Yeah, so helpful. And this comes to us from Linda, who writes, "I have been invited for Easter dinner with one family." Now, she's fully vaccinated. "Several members have recently had the virus and all others have been seriously quarantining. The mother is now 90 years old. I really want to go. Is it OK?" Again, Doctor, she is fully vaccinated.

MALLIKA MARSHALL: Great that you're fully vaccinated. Your chances of getting really sick from COVID-19 are much, much lower. But we still don't know if unvaccinated people-- if you might pose a risk, even though you've been fully vaccinated, get the virus and pass it on to those who are unvaccinated. If the unvaccinated people are at low risk, then it's probably OK. But I wonder about that 90-year-old mother. If she is not fully vaccinated, then she is vulnerable and she's at risk, and you should probably keep your distance.

LISA HUGHES: All right. Dr. Mallika Marshall, as always, thank you so much. Dr. Mallika offers her best advice. But as always, consult your personal doctor before you make any decisions about your health. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, you can reach her in one of three ways. Email dr.mallika@cbsboston.com, on Twitter @MallikaMarshall, or you can Facebook Message her, Dr. Mallika Marshall. David?