dr bunkis getting 2nd dose of covid vaccine

COVID-19 Update


Receiving second dose of Moderna vaccine, January 30, 2021

Hello from all of us at Orange County Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA and Salisbury Plastic Surgery in Worcester, MA. Dr. Bunkis got his second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Saturday, Dr. Ekstrom was scheduled to get hers in Massachusetts today, had written confirmation, showed up but was told that Moderna vaccines are only given on Wednesdays and Thursdays – she is rescheduled for Wednesday. The OCPS staff is on the list for the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccines this week. Makayla Porter, our PA in Massachusetts, will get her vaccine this week as well but the rest of the MA staff is still waiting for a date.

As we can see from Dr. Ekstrom’s experience, the vaccine rollouts in both California and Massachusetts appear to be a mess. Rules keep changing every day, resulting in Dr. Ekstrom’s vaccination delay. Massachusetts, for example, ranks 38th out of 50 States in percentage of population immunized! Following a shaky rollout of the California’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, advisors to Gov. Gavin Newsom have struck a far-reaching agreement with Kaiser and Blue Shield of California for the health insurance companies to oversee the distribution of vaccine doses to counties, pharmacies and private healthcare providers. The vaccines are crucial in helping us get this pandemic under control!

Vaccines typically require many years of research and testing before reaching the public, but in 2020, scientists around the globe raced to produce safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time – with millions dying, we did not have the luxury of researching and testing for years. So, Dr. Bunkis is and Dr. Ekstrom soon will be fully vaccinated. What does that mean? Let’s go over some basic science to understand the body’s ability to fight infections and what happens when someone receives a vaccination. There are four major types of germs or pathogens that can invade our bodies and make us sick: bacteria (tiny, one-celled creatures that can live and multiply independently, and get nutrients from their environments in order to live), viruses (microorganisms that are subparts of cells, smaller than bacteria and cannot grow or reproduce outside of a living cell), fungi (spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter, including molds, yeast and mushrooms), and protozoa (a group of single-celled microscopic animals, which include amoebas, flagellates, ciliates and sporozoans). But our focus today will be on viruses. A virus is a small, submicroscopic collection of genetic code, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat – it cannot be seen with a regular microscope but can with an electron microscope. DNA viruses contain usually double‐stranded DNA (dsDNA) and rarely single‐stranded DNA (ssDNA). Compared to DNA virus genomes, which can encode up to hundreds of viral proteins, RNA viruses have smaller genomes that usually encode only a few proteins. A virus cannot replicate alone but injects its genetic information into a host cell, after which it takes control of the cell’s machinery. This process enables the virus to make copies of its DNA or RNA and replicate itself inside the host cell. A virus can quickly make multiple copies of itself in one cell, release these copies to infect new host cells and make the recipient more ill. Frequently, they kill the host cell in the process, and cause damage to the host organism. Some common examples of DNA viruses are poxvirus, parvovirus, papillomavirus, and herpesvirus. Some examples of RNA viruses are the COVID-19 virus, hepatitis, influenza, rabies and HIV. Only immunity (from a prior infection or vaccination) or antiviral medications can eliminate or reduce the severity of viral diseases, including AIDS, COVID-19, measles and smallpox.

After a virus invades our bodies, our immune system uses several tools to fight infection. Blood contains platelets which aid in the coagulation process, red cells which carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells which fight infection. Three types of white blood cells that fight infection are:

  • Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and other debris. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. Our immune system identifies these antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them, thus giving us some level of immunity against a repeat infection.
  • B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells which produce antibodies that attack the viral particles left behind by the macrophages.
  • T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell which attack cells in the body that have already been infected by a virus.
After the infection, the person’s immune system, specifically the T-lymphocytes, remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease. These T-lymphocytes go into action quickly if the body encounters the same virus again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. A similar scenario occurs after vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Clinical trials have shown that the currently approved Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses of the vaccine to confer maximum immunity (A Johnson and Johnson vaccine that only requires a single dose but only protects 66% of recipients against infection is in the final stages of testing). People immunized against COVID-19 will have a high chance of avoiding a severe case of the illness after an actual infection, but infection with the COVID-19 would be possible even after a person acquires immunity. The virus might infect cells in the nose and throat and multiply to a level where transmission is still possible. The vaccine-triggered immune response would block the virus from damaging the lungs, preventing complications in this manner.

COVID-19 is a RNA virus. All RNA viruses mutate so it should be no surprise that mutations of the Corona virus have appeared. The current COVID-19 virus mutates 2-6 times slower than the influenza virus. We should not be surprised that the COVID-19 virus can mutate to survive and prior vaccines may not be efficacious. This is the nature of viruses. It is also one of the reasons why our annual flu vaccines are different every year. Much has been said about the UK, South African and Brazilian mutations recently. It appears that the current vaccines are effective against the UK strain but not as successful against the South African mutations. Moderna has new clinical trials studying the efficacy of a third dose of the vaccine to protect against the South African strain, but the data is not in yet.

4,000 people a day are dying in the United States from COVID-19 infection! We are all eager to get this pandemic behind us!

A disappointed Dr. Ekstrom this morning in MA.

A disappointed Dr. Ekstrom this morning in MA.

Stay healthy! Stay happy and persevere!

The end of the pandemic is almost here!

Keep wearing your masks in public, social distancing, continue to wash your hands frequently, all of you get tested before getting together with friends and family, get vaccinated when you get the opportunity, be safe, be happy, be healthy and prosper!

Enjoy your families! And have a Happy New Year!

Be grateful for what you have now and for what is on the horizon.

If you need Dr. Ekstrom or Dr. Bunkis, please call 949-888-9700 or visit our websites at:


Or for MA location, call 508-755-4911 or visit

You can respond in the comment section below or write to me at bunkis@ocps.com or Dr. Ekstrom at mds@salisburyps.com

Thanks for staying in touch and for your feedback!