Vaccines can protect against Covid-19, but aren’t perfect


Getting as many people vaccinated as possible will help reduce the strain on our healthcare system and allow us to resume normal socioeconomic activities. — Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Facebook page

As the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant continues to spread across the world, new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that vaccinated people can still spread this coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Breakthrough infections of the highly contagious Delta variant also have been reported in those who have been fully vaccinated.

This new information has led to questions surrounding the effectiveness of the current Covid-19 vaccines.

The Mayo Clinic News Network team sat down with Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr John O’Horo.

In this Q&A, he breaks down what people should know about SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission among people who have been vaccinated for Covid-19:

Can people who are fully vaccinated still transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants, specifically the Delta variant, to others?

Fully-vaccinated people have the potential to transmit Covid-19 to others.

This appears to be reduced with vaccination, but it’s not reduced enough to allow for unmasking in all situations because of this potential.

That’s why people in areas of high transmission are still asked to wear face masks.

This is also why people who are in areas where there are especially vulnerable patients or people, like in hospital settings where we take care of patients who may have weaker immune systems, are still recommended to wear masks to protect those who are at the highest risk of transmission, even from vaccinated people.

We know that some people who are vaccinated have the ability to have high levels of virus in their nose and in their throat, even if they don’t have symptoms.

This isn’t a surprise, as many different types of vaccines prevent illness, but don’t necessarily prevent you from being able to transmit that illness to others.

Why then should people get vaccinated for Covid-19 if they can still be infected or spread it to others?

What I say to people who are concerned that they can still get infected by the Delta variant even though they’re vaccinated, is that your illness if you get infected is going to be far, far less severe than if you don’t get vaccinated.

Most people who get vaccinated aren’t going to get infected.

Of those who get infected, the vaccination takes what can be a deadly illness down to something you may not even aware of, or a bad cold at the worst.

Unless you are immunocompromised or have medical conditions where the vaccination doesn’t really take, and you’re in one of those vulnerable groups, your risk of having a severe infection that lands you in the hospital or puts you in mortal danger is far, far lower when you get vaccinated.

How will widespread vaccination help stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants?

Widespread vaccination is still our road back to normal.

If enough people are vaccinated, we will reduce transmission of the virus.

We know that even though it’s not perfect at reducing transmission, it drastically reduces that.

It reduces your risk of being hospitalised or having severe illness even more.

And if enough people are vaccinated, the risk of overwhelming hospitals or having large numbers of sick people goes down, and we can start to get back to normal. – By DeeDee Stiepan/Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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