With the COVID-19 Help Desk, we will respond to reader questions directly as they come in, and publish updates weekly on our website and newsletter. We will call on a list of local subject-matter experts to assure we provide the most up-to-date information. 

You can submit questions through email to brittany@thebeacon.media, or you can call or text our COVID-19 hotline at 913-608-4777. You can also submit questions through The Beacon’s social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also check out our two guides:

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in Missouri

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in Kansas

My husband and I have had our second Pfizer vaccinations. I am not finding clear guidance on safe and acceptable social behavior now that we are fully vaccinated. Of particular import to us is whether we can safely begin to interact with our grandchildren again. And how about adult friends who are not yet vaccinated? (March 1, 2021)

Right now, it is recommended by the University of Kansas Health System to continue wearing masks, social distancing, and avoid gathering indoors. Getting the vaccine makes it less likely that you will get sick with COVID-19, but you might still be able to carry the virus and give it to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that currently, scientists are still learning about how well the vaccines work, and that vaccinated people should still follow the same precautions they have throughout the pandemic.

What happens if your vaccine site is out of the vaccine you received for dose #1? Should you take the jab that’s available? (March 1, 2021)

The University of Kansas Health System is advising people to receive both doses of the vaccine at the same location if possible. Some health systems, like the University of Kansas Health System, are also not allowing people to get a second dose unless they also received the first dose there.

It also is best to receive both doses of the vaccine from the same manufacturer.

When you receive the first dose of the vaccine, you also should receive a card with vaccine details that you can take with you when you receive your second dose, to help make sure you are getting the correct vaccine.

If you’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19, can you asymptomatically infect others? (Feb. 22, 2021)

The current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that people who are vaccinated continue to follow guidelines such as social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands often because there is still only limited data available.

New guidance from the CDC says that you don’t need to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure if you are more than two weeks out from your second COVID-19 shot, but are within three months of receiving it, said Amanda Cackler, director of Quality and Safety at the University of Kansas Health System in a news briefing.

“However, you are still supposed to be monitoring your symptoms, and depending on that exposure, you still may be recommended to get a test,” Cackler said. “Because you can still get it.”

She said that right now it isn’t known if the virus is transmissible from people who have received the vaccine.

What is happening with the COVID-19 variants found in Kansas and Missouri? (Feb. 15, 2021)

The United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.1.7 has been found in two people in Kansas and one person in Missouri. In Kansas, the variant was found in Ellis and Sedgwick counties. In Missouri, it was found in Marion County.

The UK variant has been identified as being more infectious, and scientists say it is probably more deadly.

Both the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines are effective against the UK variant, said Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, at a news conference. Williams said that a normal COVID-19 PCR test can detect the variant, and if detected, gene sequencing is done to identify the type.

“(The variant) is important to us because of the concern that if you had widespread distribution of the UK variant, it might accelerate the transmission,” Williams said. “That’s why it would be even more important that we get people vaccinated as quick as we can since the virus is effective against it.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said that the presence of the UK variant doesn’t change their public health recommendations. They encourage everyone to wear snug masks. Wearing masks with layers or multiple masks are more effective. KDHE also says to follow isolation and quarantine guidelines, physical distance, practice good hygiene, stay home if you are feeling sick and get the vaccine once you are able to.

Brittany Callan covers health and environment at The Beacon, and is a Report for America corps member. Funding for this reporting was provided in part by the Health Forward Foundation.